ScienceWorks: Water Cycle (2nd-4th)
Look beyond the four stages of the water cycle and get a first-hand look at the many paths of a water molecule. Where does the rain come from and where does it go after it hits the ground? With activities and movement, students begin to answer these and other questions about water. Register today!
Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations, Science v.1.09
- Identify natural resources (metals, fuels, fresh water, fertile soil, and forests). (E.ES.03.41)
- Describe ways humans are dependent on the natural environment (forests, water, clean air, earth materials) and constructed environments (homes, neighborhoods, shopping malls, factories and industry). (E.ES.03.51)
- Explain how matter can change from one state (liquid, solid, gas) to another by heating and cooling. (P.CM.04.11)
Water Cycle Pre-visit Materials
During Your Visit to the ScienceWorks Lab students will be expected to:
- Sit in tables of 6 students and (at least) 1 adult
- Students should be prepared to give their attention to the Lab instructors when requested to “Give Me Five”
- Work cooperatively with one another at the table
- Follow the hands-on procedures just as the Lab teacher or assistant explains them
- Handle materials and equipment carefully
It is important that teachers and chaperones:
- Help to focus the students’ attention
- Assist students with the hands-on activities and experiments when necessary
- Turn off cell phones and pagers during the class
- Adults may be asked to light a match for a table experiment
- Students will be expected to move about the room in small group activities
- Students will be using washable ink in one activity; please be aware that they may get ink on their hands
Atmosphere: The envelope of gas or air surrounding the earth.
Cloud: A visible collection of liquid water or ice condensed in the atmosphere.
Collection: The pooling together of precipitation into bodies of water.
Condensation: The process by which water vapor clumps together to form liquid water.
Evaporation: The process by which liquid water is converted to water vapor.
Molecule: The smallest particle of any substance that retains the same characteristics.
Non-porous Surface: A surface that does not absorb any water.
Porous Surface: A surface, such as a sponge, that readily soaks up water.
Precipitation: Rain, sleet, hail or snow falling from the atmosphere to the earth.
Transpiration: process where plants transfer water to the atmosphere in the form of water vapor.
Water Body: A large pool of water. For instance, an ocean, river, lake, etc.
Water Cycle: The natural cycle controlling the distribution of water throughout the earth. This involves four main processes: evaporation, condensation, precipitation and collection.
Water Vapor: Water in its gaseous state.
Water Cycle Post-visit Activity
Post-visit activities will help reiterate new concepts and tie the ScienceWorks Lab experience to your classroom curriculum. Below you will find a classroom activity and a list of suggested resources for further information. We hope that you enjoyed your field trip. Visit us again!
Hands-on Activity: Build Your Own Terrarium
- 1 large, clear tupperware container (at least 1 L) with lid per student, group or class.
- Potting Soil
- Powdered Charcoal
- Small, slow growing plants or seeds
- Add about 1 inch of gravel to the bottom of your container.
- Add about ½ inch of charcoal above the gravel.
- Add about 2–3 inches of potting soil.
- Carefully place 2 or 3 small plants or seeds into your soil.
- Pour in just enough water to moisten the soil.
- With a pencil poke a few small holes in the lid.
- Securely fasten your lid on top of your container.
- Place your terrarium in the sunlight.
You have just created a terrarium. This is a closed and self-contained system. If you are building one terrarium for the class, feel free to make it larger. Watch carefully as the day passes. You should notice that inside your terrarium, water will evaporate from the soil, condense on the lid, precipitate down onto the plants and collect in the soil. This cycle will repeat over and over again. You shouldn’t have to add any water. If students are making their own, have them keep a scientific journal about what they notice.
The gravel acts as a drainage system. Without the gravel, roots could end up sitting in water and rotting. The charcoal serves a similar purpose as the gravel. It helps with drainage and keeps roots healthy. The plant grows in the potting soil. If you notice mold forming, open your container and either transfer your plants to a new terrarium or put them in a regular pot.
Relf, Pat and Carolyn Bracken. The Magic School Bus Wet All Over: A Book About the Water Cycle. Scholastic Paperbacks. 1996.
McKinney, Barbara and Michael S. Maydak. A Drop Around the World. Dawn Publications (CA). 1998.
Royston, Angela. The Life and Times of a Drop of Water: The Water Cycle. Raintree. 2006.
Olien, Rebecca. The Water Cycle (First Facts, Water All Around). Capstone Press. 2005.
Goodrich, Randi. Hydro’s Adventure Through the Water Cycle. Geoquest Publications, 2004.