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STEM and education
Vocabulary words

aeration — a process used during water treatment that exposes water to moving air, allowing trapped gases to escape and oxygen to enter the water

agriculture — the cultivation of land for the purposes of growing crops, raising livestock, or producing renewable raw materials for industry

Apalachee — extinct tribe of native North Americans, once centered around Apalachee Bay, in northwest Florida

aquaculture — the cultivation of fish or shellfish

aquatic vegetation — plants that live in water

aquifer— an underground layer of sand, gravel, or rock that stores and carries water

artesian pressure — force created when pressure in an aquifer causes the water level in wells to rise above the top of an aquifer

artesian well — a free-flowing well that is drilled into an aquifer, relieving enough natural pressure so that water rises above the water table on its own

artifacts — objects, produced by humans, that remain and have historical interest (usually a tool or an ornament)

barrier islands — long, narrow strips of sand that form islands which protect inland areas from ocean waves, storms, and tidal surges

best management practices (BMPs) — generally accepted practices for some aspect of natural resource management, such as water conservation measures, drainage management, or erosion control. BMPs can help in preventing or reducing pollution.

biodegradable — capable of being broken down by living things, like microorganisms and bacteria

Biscayne aquifer — a source of drinking water in South Florida

brackish water — a mixture of freshwater and salt water

Calusa — originally called “Calos,” which means “fierce people,” these were descendants of the Paleo-Indians who inhabited southwest Florida from the 1500s until the early 1800s. They were also known as the “shell people” because they used seashells as foundations for their villages.

canals — man-made waterways that are used for draining and irrigating land and for navigation

capillary action — the means by which liquid moves through the porous spaces in a solid, such as soil and plant roots, due to the forces of adhesion, cohesion, and surface tension. Capillary action is essential in carrying substances and nutrients from one place to another in plants and animals.

chickees — (chik-EES) open-air homes of the Seminoles

chlorination — the process of adding chlorine to water to kill any harmful microorganisms, such as bacteria

coagulate — to cause a liquid to change into a soft semisolid or solid mass

coagulation — a process that uses chemicals in water treatment to make suspended solids gather or group together; the clumping of particles that results in the settling of impurities

coastal plains — broad, flat areas near coastlines that are characterized by low rolling hills, swamps, and marshes; also called lowlands

compass rose — the symbol used to show cardinal directions on a map (N, S, E, W)

compost — fertilizing material that consists of organic, decaying matter

composting — the mixing of various decaying organic substances, such as dead leaves and manure for fertilizing land

condensation — the process of changing a vapor into a liquid, which occurs when warm vapor mixes with cooler air in the atmosphere

condensation nuclei — particles upon which condensation may occur

confining layers — (confining zones) layers of clay or rock, found above and/or below the aquifer, that confine or hold water in the aquifer

confluence — the place where two rivers join together

conservation — the process of using or managing a natural resource to prevent its waste, harm, or destruction

conserve — to use only what is needed

consumers — living things that get their energy by eating plants or other animals

consumptive use — use of water on a daily basis, which reduces the supply

contaminant — any outside material that makes water undrinkable

contamination — an impurity in air, soil, or water that can cause harm to human health or the environment

crop rotation — a method of planting crops in succession to build and replenish the nutrients in the soil

cultivation — the act of preparing soil to raise crops

decompose — to rot or decay; to break down into smaller parts

decomposers — fungi, bacteria, and insects that get their energy by breaking down wastes and dead organisms

dehydration — the process of losing or removing water

density — how close molecules are to each other within a given space: the closer together they are, the more dense the matter

depletion — occurs when water is used faster than it is replaced; can cause a shortage

desalination — the process of removing salt and other minerals, usually from seawater

detritus — decaying leaves and plant material

dew point — the temperature at which condensation begins

discharge — to expel; water that naturally moves from an aquifer to a surface stream or lake

disinfect — to get rid of bacteria and contaminants

domestic self-supplied — water withdrawn by the user for household use, usually from individual wells

drain field — underground area, consisting of perforated (having small holes) pipes, where the small solids remaining from a septic tank are filtered out

dredging — removing sand, silt, mud, and other sediments from the bottom of a body of water to deepen or widen the area

drip irrigation — a process in which water is directly applied to the roots of a plant through the use of a drip, trickle, or microspray

drought — a long period of time with little or no rain that results in a shortage of water

ecosystem — a natural community of living things that interacts with both living and nonliving things in the environment

energy — usable power or the sources of such usable power

erode — to wear away or dissolve

erosion — the wearing away of the top layer of the earth (such as soil, sand, or rock) by wind, water, or glaciers

estuary — a place where freshwater and salt water meet and mix, such as bays, lagoons, or saltwater marshes

evaporate — to change or convert into a vapor

evaporation — the process caused by heat energy that allows a liquid, namely water, to turn into an invisible gas such as water vapor

fertilize — adding a chemical substance to enrich the soil for better plant growth

fertilizer — a chemical substance used to enrich the soil for better plant growth

filter — a porous article or mass (such as cloth, paper, or sand) for separating particles from a liquid or gas passed through it

filtration — the process that helps remove particles from water

flood — the overflow of too much water onto an area that is normally dry

Floridan aquifer — a source of drinking water in most of Florida; one of the largest aquifers in the United States

food chain (food web) — a series of organisms showing the movement of energy through an ecosystem; a community of organisms in which each member is eaten in turn by another member, transferring energy through the ecosystem

free-flowing well — a well drilled directly into the aquifer, having natural pressure to push the water to the surface on its own

freshwater — water that has a low amount of salt and minerals

freshwater marsh— a type of wetland where grasses grow, but trees do not

freshwater wetland — a broad, flat piece of land covered with freshwater most of the time and containing freshwater grasses and plants

frost — a covering of tiny white crystals on a cold surface that is formed by the condensation of water vapor when the temperature is below freezing, 32° Fahrenheit (0° Celsius)

gas — a property of matter in which the atoms are far apart and move at a rapid speed

glacier — a huge mass of ice that moves slowly over land

groundwater — water below the ground, usually found in aquifers

groundwater flow — the movement of groundwater beneath the earth’s surface

gulf — a large area of sea or ocean partially enclosed by land

Gulf Stream — a warm ocean current that flows north out of the Gulf of Mexico along the East Coast of the United States, toward Newfoundland, and then eastward toward the British Isles

habitat — a place where plants and animals live and grow naturally

hazard — something that is dangerous or unsafe

headwaters — the source or starting point of a river

holding tank — part of a septic system where the wastewater is held before being separated into solids and liquids

hydrate — to add moisture or water to a substance

hydrologic cycle — another term for the water cycle

hydrology — the study of water

hydrosphere — the part of the earth that includes all bodies of water and water vapor in the atmosphere

impermeable — material that fluids cannot pass through

impurities — outside materials that contaminate

intermediate aquifer — layers of sand, clay, or gravel that hold water above the Floridan aquifer

invertebrates — animals that do not have a backbone

irrigate — to apply water to an area using a hose, a sprinkler, or another method

irrigation — the process of putting water on land to help plants grow

island — a body of land completely surrounded by water

lake — a large body of water completely surrounded by land

landlocked — surrounded completely or almost completely by land

landscape — the natural features of an area such as fields, hills, forests, and water; the portion of land that is usually what the eye can see in a single view

landscaping — improving or changing a piece of land by planting or altering the ground area

limestone — highly porous rock formed millions of years ago from shells and bones of sea animals

liquid — a property of matter in which the atoms are close together with little movement

macroinvertebrates — animals without backbones that can be seen with your eyes

macroscopic invertebrates — invertebrates that can be seen without a microscope

marsh — an area of shallow water covered with grasses

matter — anything that you can see, feel, touch, taste, or hear; made of small particles called atoms

molecule — two or more atoms together

mouth of a river — the end of a river where it empties into another body of water

mulch — material used to help hold moisture in the soil, reduce weed growth, and slow erosion

nonpoint source pollution — pollution that cannot be traced to a particular source or point of entry

ordinance — a law made by a government or authority, specifically made by a city or municipality

organic — a specific method of growing, processing, and storing foods without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or irradiation

organic farming — the practice of raising plants (especially fruits and vegetables, but ornamentals as well) and animals or livestock without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers or other chemicals and without the use of antibiotics and hormones

overuse — using more than necessary; wasteful

peninsular — land surrounded by water on three sides

percolation — the process by which water moves through the soil

permeable — the ability of a material to allow liquids to pass through it

pesticides — a chemical preparation for the control of specific organisms

phosphate — a mineral used to make fertilizers

photosynthesis — a process by which plants use energy from the sun to make food and oxygen

phytoplankton — microscopic plants, such as algae, that thrive in rivers, marshes, and lakes

point-source pollution — pollution that can be traced to a particular source or point of entry

pollutant — a harmful chemical, waste material, or sediments

pollution — contamination of water or air by harmful chemicals or waste materials

porous — full of or having pores; allowing liquid or gas to pass through pores

potable — drinkable; safe to drink

poultry industry — a major agricultural business in Florida, dealing with chickens and egg-producing hens

precipitate — to fall back to the earth’s surface as rain, snow, sleet, or hail

precipitation — the moisture that falls back to the earth in the form of rain, snow, sleet, or hail

primary consumers — the first class of animals in the food chain, such as a rabbit, that eats plants or detritus

primary producers — any of the green plants or microorganisms that can convert light or chemical energy into organic matter

producers — living things that make their own foods or that become food for others to eat

public water supply — a water system that serves more than 400 people or that uses more than 10,000 gallons of water each day

public water system — water that is pumped from a central source through underground pipes into homes, schools, and businesses; used mostly in or near cities and heavily populated areas

rain gauge — a measuring device to keep track of how much rain has fallen

recharge — the process of water seeping or soaking into the ground and refilling the aquifer

recharge area — the place where water is able to seep into the ground and refill an aquifer because no confining layer is present

reclaimed water — water that has been used, collected, and then treated or cleansed so it is safe to be used for irrigation, but remains undrinkable

recycle — to use more than once

restoration — work that restores or attempts to return something to its natural state

restore — to return something to its original condition

reuse — the act of using something after it has already been used

river — a large, flowing body of water that empties into an ocean, a sea, a lake, or another body of water

rookery — a place where many birds nest and raise their young

runoff — water from rain or irrigation that does not soak into the ground, but flows into the nearest body of water

salt-tolerant — able to survive in salty areas

saltwater intrusion — when salt water is drawn into the freshwater zone of an aquifer, making the water unfit for drinking

saltwater wetland — a flat piece of land covered with brackish water or salt water and containing saltwater plants, usually found along the coast

saturation — the condition of having absorbed all the liquid that is possible

saturation zone — the area where water fills the underground spaces between soil, sand, and rock

scavengers — living things that will eat refuse, other decaying organic matter, or material left over by other organisms

sea grass — a type of submersed aquatic vegetation found in salty water

secondary consumer — the second class of animals in the food chain; animals that feed on plant-eating primary consumers

sedimentation — the water treatment process after coagulation in which heavy solids settle to the bottom of the tank, where they are removed; the process in which sediments or solids settle out or sink to the bottom of a liquid

seepage — a gradual leakage

septic tank — an underground receptacle for wastewater in which the bacteria contained in sewage decomposes; the organic wastes and sludge settle to the bottom of the tank while the remaining liquid flows out of the tank and into the drain field

sewer system — an underground system of pipes that carries wastewater to a treatment plant

sinkhole — a hole or a depression in the ground caused by erosion of underground limestone

sludge — thick, messy, and muddy solids that remain after wastewater is treated

solid — a property of matter where the atoms are tightly packed together with no movement

spring — a natural flow of water at the earth’s surface, caused by pressure on groundwater or the aquifer

storage tank — a tank where water is contained until it is needed in your home; a large container used for holding, transporting, or storing liquids or gases

stormwater runoff — rainwater that runs off a hard surface into the nearest body of water

sublimation — the point where water vapor turns to frost when the temperature and dew point fall below 32° Fahrenheit (0° Celsius)

submersed aquatic vegetation — aquatic plants such as sea grasses that live completely under water

surface water — water that is found on the surface of the earth, such as in oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, wetlands, streams, or seas

surficial aquifer — layers of sand, clay, or gravel that hold water above the Floridan aquifer and close to the surface

swamp — a flat, low-lying freshwater wetland containing trees and other vegetation

Tequestas — a tribe of Native Americans, primarily hunters and gathers, that lived in Miami and the southwest Florida area

Timucuas — a Native American peoples, formerly inhabiting much of northern Florida, extinct since the early 18th century

top consumers — the class of animals in the food chain that eats other animals; top predators; the biggest or fastest animals in the food chain

tourism — an industry that provides services such as shelter, food, and entertainment for visitors from outside areas

toxic waste — garbage or waste that contains harmful materials

transpiration — the process by which plants give off moisture or vapor through the pores in the surfaces of their leaves

treaty — agreement between two groups

tributary — a small river or stream that flows into a larger river or stream

turpentine — a substance obtained from pine trees

uplands — higher parts of the landscape surrounding wetland areas

vapor — the invisible gaseous state of water that occurs when water is energized by heat, causing it to rise into the atmosphere; water that is in the air

vegetation — grasses and plants that grow in specific areas

wastewater — water that has been used and is no longer clean

water conservation — the act of using only as much water as is needed; the protection and wise use of water

water cycle — the continuous movement of water from the earth into the atmosphere and back to the earth again

water molecule — known as H²O, it consists of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen

watershed — the land and water areas that water moves over, moves through, and drains into

water table — the highest level where underground water is found

water treatment plant — the location to which water from sewer systems is brought in order to clean and treat it before it is reused or returned to the environment

waterwise — a wise use of water

waterwise gardening — (Xeriscape) a style of landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment

well — a hole or a shaft drilled into the earth where water, other liquids, and gases are pumped to the surface

well water — drinkable water that is pumped from the ground

wetlands — land where the soil is very wet or soaked with water during most times of the year, thereby creating open-water habitat for animals and plants adapted to growing in these conditions; contains hydric soils that help filter and regulate the water supply

Xeriscape — (in Florida, now referred to as waterwise gardening) a style of landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment

zones — underground layers of freshwater or salt water

zooplankton — microscopic animals that have no backbone, eat phytoplankton, and float in the water


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