L a n d L e a r n : The water cycle - student activity

image: water droplets

image: water tap

image: wave

The water cycle - student activity

Victorian Essential Learning Standards Domains and (Levels):

Science (3,4)

Preparation time - 90 minutes, Activity time - 50 minutes.

Setting: A large room or playing field.

With rolls of the dice, students simulate the movement of water through the water cycle.

Students will develop an understanding of the movement of water within the water cycle and identify the different states of water as it moves through the cycle. Upper level students will identify and describe the processes associated with the changed states of water.

» 9 x A3 paper or card
» Marking pens
» 9 cube-shaped boxes - approx 15cm sides
» Water cycle worksheet (students)
» Water cycle table (teacher resource)
» A bell, whistle or buzzer for sound maker

Student Connections:
The water cycle is often presented simply as water in a stream flowing to the ocean, evaporating to the clouds, raining down on a mountain, and flowing back down the stream. Role playing a water molecule will help students understand the water cycle as more than a two dimensional path.

The Activity

Ask students to identify the different places water can go as it moves through and around the Earth.
Write the responses on the board. Discuss the conditions that cause water to move. Sort and categorise the responses into groups similar to those listed in Step 1 below; OR give students the headings and ask them to sort their responses. Discuss the different places water can go from each of the stations.

Procedural Steps:
1. From discussion, list nine stations water can move through. (eg, Clouds, Plants, Ocean, Animals, Rivers, Lakes, Ground water, Soil, Snow & Ice)
2. Write the names of the selected stations on the A3 paper and place them around the room where they are easily seen and well-spaced, creating nine stations.
3. Tell students that they are water molecules moving through the water cycle.
4. Assign students to each station, making sure they are well spread.
5. Hand each student a water cycle worksheet.
6. At each station, students can discuss where and in what form water moves from that place to another.
7. Give one dice to each station. (Groups can check against the dice to see if they have identified all the places water can go from their station)
8. Students are to line up behind the dice at their stations.
9. Each student rolls the dice and moves to the location indicated by the label facing up. If they roll "stay" they move to the back of the line. When students arrive at the next station they should move to the back of the line.
10. Students are to keep track of their movements by drawing lines on their water cycle worksheet to show where they have been.

The game will begin and end with a whistle or other sound.

Discussion & Wrap Up:
» Discuss any cycling that took place.
» Ask students to suggest reasons for the results represented on their worksheets.
» Discuss where evaporation, condensation, precipitation, transpiration would occur.
» Discuss the state water would be in at different stations. Identify other points in the natural processes where that state occurs.
» Provide students with a location, eg. small stream, car park, dam, wetland, well, etc and have them identify ways water can move to and from that site.
» Discuss the role of humans in the water cycle. What are the impacts of human activities?
» Have students write stories about their journeys as water molecules: eg. the places they have been and the conditions necessary for them to move on.

» Have students compare the movement of water at different locations and during different seasons.
» Investigate how water can be polluted and cleaned as it moves through the water cycle.
» Use the extension and discussion points as the basis for group learning projects which can later be shared with the whole class.

» Test students' understanding using another copy of the worksheet. Ask them to identify the state water is in as it moves between specified stations, the processes involved in that movement, where movement cannot occur.
» Students can explain what they have learned using diagrams and/or writing a story.

There are numerous resources available on the theme of water. The following programs, websites and recent publications provide links and lists of information and resources addressing specific aspects of the theme.

» International Year of Freshwater - www.wateryear2003.org - the website links to the UNESCO site and other national and international sites
» EdNA OnLine theme pages for schools - www.edna.au/edna/page456/html - Select Water and other relevant themes for websites most suited for education purposes
» Waterwatch Victoria - www.vic.waterwatch.org.au - links to Catchment sites and other watery places.
» Dept of Sustainablility and Environment - www.dse.vic.gov.au/dse/index.htm - follow links to information on water and catchment management.
» Bureau of Meteorology - www.bom.gov.au/lam/ - provides education activities and resources.
» Investigating Freshwater - a resource book of ideas for National Science Week 2003 ASTA
» The Water-efficient Garden - A Guide to Sustainable Landscaping in Australia - Wendy van Gok - Water-efficient Gardenscapes 2002

To make the dice for the stations:
1. Use 9 cubes with approx. 15cm sides (Students could make them in Maths)
2. Create one dice per station using the linked stations table as a guide for the appropriate number of pictures for each dice. You will need the following pictures:
Animals = 3 River = 5 Groundwater = 5
Clouds = 13 Plants=1 Soil = 3
Lake = 4 Ocean = 3 Snow & Ice = 1
Stay = 16    
3. Photocopy the student worksheet and cut out the required images OR use student drawings.

Activity tools:
» Stations table - Station, dice side labels and explanations
» Student worksheet - images to photocopy for dice

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