The water cycle
This activity can be used to establish the students understanding of the water cycle.
Earth and Beyond
3.3 Students collect information that describes ways in which living things use the Earth and the sun as resources.
4.1 Students recognise and analyse some interactions (including the weather) between systems of Earth and beyond.
Life and Living
3.3 Students describe some interactions (including feeding relationships) between living things and between living parts of the environment.
Studies of Society and Environment
Systems, Resources and Power
3.1 Students make inferences about interactions between people and natural cycles, including the water cycle.
Students could give a written account of the water cycle.
Students understanding of the cycle and of the associated scientific language may vary. The activity allows for such variation.
Time: 45-60 minutes
Present the poster and give students some time to study it quietly.
Ask students to identify the natural features (e.g. creeks, mountains, coastline etc) and compare these to the local environment, for example, "the mountains in the background look like the ones you can climb at (location in local environment.)" or "there is no waterfall or dam near us." List the natural features.
Discuss the features built by people, or areas where the natural resources of the catchment are being used by people. Compare and contrast with your local environment.
Follow the water droplet, the arrows and explanations around the water cycle.
Follow the water cycle through again and list the stages, i.e. evaporation, transpiration etc. Ask students what they think causes the water to turn to a vapour (the sun heats up the water in the waterways). To help the students arrive at the heat from the sun, you could ask them if they think evaporation occurs at night. If students can’t conceptualise water turning into vapour or vapour turning back into water (becoming rain) Activity 2 - A Model Water Cycle will demonstrate this.
Check students understanding of the stages by questioning.
With the students help, model drawing and labelling the water cycle for the class, checking for student understanding of the stages as you go.
Students predict what might occur if one of the variables within the cycle is altered, e.g. less/greater evaporation.
Students draw and label the water cycle. This may be a small group or individual effort. Display group efforts with "The Water Cycle" poster with the purpose of relating to them during the unit.
Gathering information about student learning
Sources of information could include:
- anecdotal notes of any student alternative conceptions.
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Last updated 29 September 2010