Our Blue Planet

7 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT define and identify surface water features on a map and satellite images.

Big Idea

Hydrologists get their feet wet while going on a webquest to learn about surface water features.

NGSS Connections and Class Preparation

10 minutes

In this lesson students access satellite and map images to identify where water features are found on Earth.

Connection to NGSS -

ESS2 C Water is found in the ocean, rivers, lakes and ponds. Water exists as a solid, ice, and liquid form.

Through webquests, students define and locate oceans, rivers, lakes and glaciers.

ESS2 B Maps show where things are located. One can map the shapes and kinds of land and water in an area.

Students look at maps and satellite images to note the features of lakes, rivers, oceans, and glaciers and to label water features and land forms on their map.

Science and Engineering Practices

- SP 2 Developing and Using Models

Students compare different maps and satellite images to learn about surface water and land features. Then label their maps.

- SP 4 Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Students review maps and satellite images to make observations about surface water and land features.

- SP 6 Constructing Explanations

Students refer to their observations to state their learning for the class KLEWS chart.

- SP 8 Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information

Students use grade level text and media to gather information about surface water systems, i.e. rivers and lakes.

Class Preparation -

Check that the lesson Webquest: Our Blue Planet  can be accessed

Check availability of lap tops or computer lab (web quest could be done whole class if students do not have access to individual digitial devices)

Copy student Our Blue Planet Observations / student

Copy Maps / student (see webquest pages )

Make Blue Planet Groups and make their bp material

I am choosing to pair students with same gender because I noticed with the 'teams of 3', the 'odd' person out did not participate as actively. I want to see how students work when paired with the same gender. I will check that I have a solid reader in each pair.

Great image to show amount of water on planet.

Another useful link for images resources on ice and snow.

Question for the Day: Why is the Earth called the 'blue planet'?

5 minutes

I start science with a question, usually written on the board.  This allows students time to consider today's topic before the lesson has officially begun. 

Students know when they return from lunch, we meet on the rug to read our 'science question for the day'. I have established this routine with the kiddos to keep transition time short and effective and redirect student's attention back to content while allowing time for focused peer interaction.

Question for the Day: Why is our Earth called the blue planet?

I signal students to the rug to read the 'question for the day' together.  I project images of the Earth from outer space. 

"These are pictures that astronauts took of our planet. When astronauts saw our beautiful planet from outer space they nicknamed Earth the  'blue planet'. Do you see why the astronauts named Earth the Blue Planet?"

I signal for students to turn and share. I listen to what they have to say and then call on a volunteer to answer the question.

Before class I cut an apple into thirds and point out,  "If we could move all the land masses together, they would only cover 1/3 of the earth, that is like only one of these pieces of the apple, the other 2/3, the other 2 pieces of the apple show how much water is on the Earth.

This really helped my visual learners to see how much more Earth surface is covered with water. There were lots of oohs and ahhs. I was not expecting such a dramatic reaction. 

"Most of the Earth's surface is covered by more water than land. Water can shape the land and influence our weather. Scientists who study earth's water system, the hydrosphere, are called hydrologists."

I use this opportunity to break up the word hyrdo/sphere, to help students remember the definition.

"We will be studying parts hydrosphere for the next couple of weeks, so you all will be hydrologists!"

I point to the word hydrosphere and hydrologist on the KLEWS chart under 'science vocabulary'.

Introducing the Unit KLEWS chart

15 minutes

I introduce the KLEWS chart that we will be using for the duration of the unit with the anchor question: How can we prevent or slow down wind or water from shaping the land? The KLEWS chart provides a way for me assess and validate what students know about the anchor question and a way to integrate the topics introduced in this unit. 

"One of the problems that hyrdologists may need to solve is: How can we prevent or slow down wind or water from shaping the land?"

"You may have some ideas on how we could prevent or slow down wind or water from shaping the land, but before you share your ideas. I want you to share what you know about wind, water or land."

I point to the word 'know' on the class KLEWS chart.

This will be a directed discussion, as I want to help students differentiate between ideas (we could ...), opinions (I think ...)  and perceived facts (water flows down hill).

I write their responses on post-its and add it to the 'know' column, including misconception facts. These will be addressed as we move through the unit.

"This is the guiding question," I point to the anchor question on the KLEWS chart, "we will be investigating. As scientist we want to gather as much information as possible and learn as much as we can so that we make evidenced based decisions on how to solve the question."

"What other information or questions do we need to find or answer to help us work with our 'anchor question'? " I add student responses to the 'wonderings' part of the chart, writing their responses on post its.

"Hydrologists use certain vocabulary to help them talk about the different surface water systems, like ocean," I add this to the vocabulary column on the KLEWS chart.

"What other surface water systems have you studied in social studies? Right, river and lakes." These words are added to the KLEWS chart. Today you will start a webquest to learn more about river, lake, ocean and glacier features."

I am connecting today's lesson to prior learning, and will use student's prior learning as we associate different landforms with water systems. (embed landform flip book).

"I have paired each of you with a research partners." I project the teams on the board. "Please say hello to your partners and decide whose table you will sit at, then take a seat so that I can give you the next set of directions."


Webquest: Surface Water Features and Landforms

30 minutes

Students will need two - three days to complete the webquest since part of this lesson was used to introduce the unit, KLEWS chart, and webquest. I plan to use our computer lab time to complete the webquest.

"Hydrologists what could we look at to help us find where rivers, lakes, oceans, and glaciers on the earthYes we could look at maps. Do you remember what we looked at on Google Earth? Right, satellite images. What is a satellite image?"

"You will explore maps and satellite images to observe where water systems are found, what they look like, and some of the landforms around them."

I show students how to access the webquest page. Then I project the mission goal and mission pages and read these to the kiddos. These pages explain the task.  

Teams are assigned to a continent to explore, with one team exploring the North Pole. I wanted to have 8 teams so I added the North Pole team.

I let them know that they will probably not finish their webquest today and that they will have time later in the week to work on their webquest in the computer lab.

After I have checked  to see that everyone understands the directions, which are also posted on the board for my visual learners. I pass out the webquest student file - response page and maps.

I walk around the room discussing with teams what they see on the images and maps and check that they have started their first task, making observations and creating flashcards for the water features, lake, river and glacier.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

I plan time for students to shut down and put away the laptops, and place their webquest materials in their science folder.

I call students to the rug and direct them to sit with their research team. I ask if there is any information we can add to the KLEWS chart. Afterwards I ask about how the research went.

"What went well with your research? Please discuss this with your team. How did you share the work and research?" I listen to conversations and then ask, "What was tricky about looking at the maps and satellite images?" I call on a couple of students to share. Then direct students to say thank you to their team and put away their work in their science folder.