What-a-cycle

In this activity, students act as water molecules and travel through parts of the water cycle (ocean, atmosphere, clouds, glaciers, snow, rivers, lakes, ground, aquifer), noting on a hydrological cycle diagram the pathway traveled.

Go To:

Jetstream - On-line School for Weather
NOAA - National Weather Service
Activity takes about 1 class period.

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Educators may wish to supplement this with background materials, see for example: [link 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.

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