Jetstream - On-line School for Weather, NOAA - National Weather Service
Activity takes about 1 class period.Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»
See how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Performance Expectation, 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 8 Cross Cutting Concepts, 6 Science and Engineering Practices
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing 2b
Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.
Other materials addressing:
D) Flow of matter and energy.
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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy |
- Educators may wish to supplement this with background materials, see for example: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/atmos/whatacycle_max.html.
- Educators may also want each student to discuss their own pathway through the water cycle with the group to reinforce how complex the water cycle really is.
- To connect to climate change introduce some "What if...?" scenarios in a post-activity discussion. e.g. "What if the temperature of the ocean sea surface increased? How might this change other elements of the cycle?"
- Could use as-is with elementary students; one could add complexity to it for middle school students. One concept to consider introducing is the energy gained or lost during evaporation or condensation, and students could leave or take a token at a station to represent the gain or loss of energy. Another concept to consider adding would be the flux of water molecules.
About the Science
- Activity gives students a visceral sense of where and how frequently water molecules move around in the water cycle.
- As noted in its description, the activity is unrealistic as most water molecules are contained in the ocean. About half of the students are initially placed at the ocean station.
- Comments from expert scientist: Creative way to engage students in a "game" to learn about the various interactions within the water cycle. Presents a thorough number of paths and parts of the water cycle, to illustrate water cycle complexity. The cards describe and define, in appropriate scientific terms, the process that takes place for the student (i.e. water molecule) to transition from one place in the cycle to the next. That's where the real learning can come in, in having the students learn about how those movements within the water system take place.
About the Pedagogy
- While the activity does not include much scientific background on the water cycle itself, it is a kinesthetic exercise that will give students a strong sense of what water molecules do within the water cycle, and the variety of pathways that a molecule can take.
Technical Details/Ease of Use
- The website includes printouts for both the station cards for each station in the water cycle and the water cycle worksheets for each student. These are in color but don't require a color printer.
- Students must be mobile and the classroom space must be configured such that students can move around.
Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:
Performance Expectations: 1
MS-ESS2-4: Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth's systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity.
Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2
MS-ESS2.C1:Water continually cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere via transpiration, evaporation, condensation and crystallization, and precipitation, as well as downhill flows on land.
MS-ESS2.C3:Global movements of water and its changes in form are propelled by sunlight and gravity.
Cross Cutting Concepts: 8
MS-C4.2: Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy, matter, and information flows within systems.
MS-C5.1:Matter is conserved because atoms are conserved in physical and chemical processes.
MS-C5.2: Within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter.
MS-C7.3:Stability might be disturbed either by sudden events or gradual changes that accumulate over time.
MS-C1.2: Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural and human designed systems
MS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.
MS-C3.1:Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small.
MS-C3.3: Proportional relationships (e.g., speed as the ratio of distance traveled to time taken) among different types of quantities provide information about the magnitude of properties and processes.
Science and Engineering Practices: 6
MS-P2.1:Evaluate limitations of a model for a proposed object or tool.
MS-P2.4:Develop and/or revise a model to show the relationships among variables, including those that are not observable but predict observable phenomena.
MS-P2.5:Develop and/or use a model to predict and/or describe phenomena.
MS-P4.2:Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships.
MS-P5.4:Apply mathematical concepts and/or processes (e.g., ratio, rate, percent, basic operations, simple algebra) to scientific and engineering questions and problems.
MS-P6.2:Construct an explanation using models or representations.