The Water Cycle

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Students will model the water cycle in a stream table and learn the way water moves in the environment

Big Idea

Water is naturally recycled through the hydrologic cycle.


10 minutes

I begin this lesson by asking students to brainstorm with their science group about where water comes from. After providing time for student sharing, I ask students to report where they think water comes from and record their answers on the board. 

I share with students that water is a finite resource that is naturally recycled through a process called the water (or hydrologic) cycle. We discuss other cycles with which students are familiar (e.g. life cycles). I inform students that they will create a model of the water cycle within their stream tables in today's lab.

Student-Conducted Lab

50 minutes

In this lab, students create a model of the water cycle in their stream tables. I display the water cycle lab worksheet on the document camera. I share the focus questions with students and ask them to record their prediction about what will happen within their stream table during the lab. I then review the procedures for the day's lab and assign student jobs (see reflection). 

I provide students with time to conduct their lab. During student work time, I walk around and check in with each student group. During my check-ins, I answer questions, clarify directions, point out key events occurring in the stream table, and provide assistance to student groups. 

A video of my students conducting their lab can be found here. A video of students discussing condensation in the stream table can be found here

Home Practice

To conclude the lesson, I discuss with the students how water is a renewable resources, but that there is a finite amount of water available to people. I discuss how only 1 - 3% of the world's water is fresh water that is free for human use. I ask students to consider if they use water wisely. To help the answer this query, I inform students that they will track their water useage for one day. To do this, I provide students with the water usage homework to help them track their water use. An online home water calculator can also help students to determine their water usage.