Learn At Our Historic Mill

The Water Cycle Experiment

Grades:

1-6

Objective:

Learn about the water cycle.

Method:

Students will read about the water cycle and conduct an activity to explore how the water cycle works.

Materials:

  • Computer access
  • Copies of water cycle diagram for each student
  • Copies of completed water cycle diagram for teacher reference
  • A clear plastic container
  • Two rocks in the container (taller than one inch)
  • An ice cube*
  • A small, clear plastic cup filled with soil
  • Enough water to fill the container about one inch
  • Enough plastic wrap to cover the container
  • Access to a window with direct sunlight
  • Materials required to build one model. For more models, increase the materials.

Time:

  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes
  • Class Time: 30 minutes
  • Wait Time: 1 – 2 days

Procedure:

  • Review the water cycle diagram with the class.
  • Obtain a copy of a modern birth announcement to use in the activity.
    • Conduct the water cycle model experiment in class. You may opt to make one model as a class, or you may choose to break the class into groups that make their own models. Follow these steps to create the model:
    • How may the weather have affected travel?
    • Place the two rocks in the plastic container.
    • Place a cup of soil in the container.
    • Fill container with water, but be sure that the rocks and soil are not entirely submerged in the water (river)
    • Place an ice cube on one rock (ice and snow melt)
    • Cover container with plastic wrap (clouds)
    • Place in front of a window that gets sunlight (sun)
    • Leave the experiment for a couple of days
    • Tap the plastic wrap, and watch it rain
    • Look at the “run-off” on the rock
    • Ask the following questions after finishing the experiment:
    • Where did the rain come from?
    • Where did the rain go?
    • Is the dirt damp?
    • What happened to the ice? Where is it now?
    • Can you identify all of the parts of the water cycle in this experiment? The parts of the water cycle are noted in parenthesis above.
  • Explain that the water cycle helps people in many ways. Water was an important form of power to mills like that at Hanford Mills Museum.
  • Review the Pre-visit Orientation Activity with the class, available on the Museum website.
  • Ask the students to pay attention to the role of the water cycle at Hanford Mills during their visit.

Assessment:

  • Participation in experiment
  • Class participation in answering questions (listening and speaking)

NYS Learning Standards:

  • ELA Standard 1
  • ELA Standard 3
  • Math, Science and Tech. Standard 1
  • Math, Science and Tech. Standard 4

Vocabulary & Spelling Words:

    Evaporation – v. to turn from liquid into vapor.

    Runoff – n. anything that drains away, such as extra rainwater that is not absorbed by the earth.

    Precipitation – v. the act of water falling in the form of rain, snow, sleet, or hail.

    Transpiration – v. to give off wastes from the surface in the form of vapor, as plants.

    Vapor – n. tiny particles of a liquid (like water) that become a gas.

    Water cycle – n. the route of water movement from the oceans to the air, to the Earth, and return to the air.