Learn about the water cycle.
Students will read about the water cycle and conduct an activity to explore how the water cycle works.
- 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.
- Preparation Time: 15 minutes
- Class Time: 30 minutes
- Wait Time: 1 – 2 days
- 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.
- 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.