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McREL Standards Activity

Wading Through the Water Cycle

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will be able to explain the processes involved in the water cycle and their effects on climate.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
 Standard 1.Understands atmospheric processes and the water cycle
   Level III [Grade 6-8]
   Benchmark 2. Knows the processes involved in the water cycle (e.g., evaporation, condensation, precipitation, surface run-off, percolation) and their effects on climatic patterns
Student Product:Model and Written Report
Material & Resources:Students will need different materials, depending on the type of model they choose to draw or design.

The following internet sites provide information on the water cycle, and hundreds of others can be found by using a search engine to search for "water cycle."

Teacher's Note:This instructional activity will likely take several class periods to complete.
Student directions:

The Earth’s water cycle is made up of several processes, including precipitation, evaporation, condensation, percolation, and surface run-off. Rain, snow, hail, and other forms of moisture fall from the clouds to the Earth; some water evaporates and returns to the air; and some water percolates into the ground or flows as surface run-off. Easy enough, right? Not so fast, though. If the water cycle occurs everywhere on Earth, then why do we have such a wide variety of climatic regions, such as deserts, savannas, tropical rain forests, and fertile plains? As a result of this activity, you will know the answers.

First, draw or create a detailed model of the water cycle. Include as many situations as you can. For instance, rain may fall on a mountain, the ocean, plains, or some other region. Water may evaporate from a desert that just received rain, from snow in the mountains, or from water in a stream or the ocean. Be sure to describe what happens at each phase of the water cycle, and consider how aspects of the water cycle may change during different seasons in different locations on Earth. You may refer to a variety of resources, including internet sites, to create your model. Finally, based on your research and the model you have created, write a short report explaining how the processes involved in the water cycle affect climatic patterns on Earth.