Science - 4th Grade
Standard 1 Objective 2
2 class periods of 60 minutes each
In this activity students build a water cycle model and monitor it for a 2-week period helping them to understand that water changes state as it moves through the cycle.
The Importance of Water
The Water Cycle
The Case of the Wacky Water Cycle
The Magic School Bus, Wet All Over
The Water Cycle, by Trudi Strain Trueit; ISBN 0-531-16220-6
The Snowflake-A Water Cycle Story, by Neil Waldman; ISBN 0-7613-2347-3
A Drop of Water -- A Book of Science and Wonder, by Walter Wick; ISBN 0-590-02319-5
A Drop Around the World, Barbara Shaw McKinney; ISBN 1-883220-72-6
A Teacher's Guide to A Drop Around the World, by Bruce and Carol Malnor; ISBN 1-883220- 77-7
The Life and Times of a Drop of Water, by Raintree Press; ISBN 1-4109-1956-0
The Magic School Bus -- Wet All Over, by Joanna Cole, Scholastic Inc; ISBN 0-590-50833-4
Earth's water system is finite; the same water we are drinking today has been cycled over, on, and under Earth's surface for thousands of years. This continual movement of water, the water cycle, collects, purifies and distributes the water we need to live. Because water does move in a never-ending cycle, the water we are using today is the same water prehistoric creatures used for sustenance. The model in this activity illustrates the water cycle on a global level. The total amount of water inside the model is constant, like the total amount of water on Earth is constant.
The model is constructed using three clear two-liter bottles with caps. These bottles will need to be prepared beforehand by removing labels and cutting one bottle just below the curved top, (you can use a drywall screw to make a starter hole for the scissors). Label this bottle "A" with a permanent marker on the side of the bottle. Cut the other bottle just above the curved bottom; label this bottle "B" with a permanent marker on the side of the bottle. Label the third bottle "C." A quarter inch hole should be drilled in one of the bottle lids.
This activity will require a minimum of two 50-60 minute periods.
1. Use science process and thinking skills.
2. Communicate effectively using science language and reasoning.
Invitation to Learn
The teacher invites the class to have a drink of water. As the class is sipping their cups of water, the teacher asks 5 students to each open a numbered envelope and read the contents. Each envelope contains a factoid about the water cycle that has previously been discussed in class. The fifth envelope is opened and the student reads aloud from the card, "Mr./Mrs./Ms._______, do you know you are drinking dinosaur drool?" The teacher either pretends to choke or spits out the water in a "dramatic" fashion. "How is this possible?" exclaims the teacher, "It tastes like clean, fresh water, it looks like clean fresh water, it smells like clean fresh water, how did the dino drool get in here? It is time for an investigation!"
Curriculum Extensions/Adaptations/ Integration
Photograph interview. Take photos of the students building their models and the models "in progress." After the activity is completed (a week later) show the students the pictures and ask questions. You can do this as a group or individual interviews. As students observe the pictures, some questions that can be asked are:
- What were you doing when this picture was taken?
- What did you learn?
- What more have you learned about the topic since the day of this picture?
- How did you use what you learned?
- What is happening in this picture as it relates to the water cycle?
Depending on the students and the experience being assessed some questions may be more pertinent than others. The teacher can create the questions that are the most important to measure student understanding. This type of assessment benefits students who may struggle with writing or expressing themselves with the written word. An oral assessment allows them to demonstrate science vocabulary and concepts without getting mired in the process of writing. This type of assessment can make science learning visible by having students recall facts, concepts, applications and actions. A rubric can be created to measure the completeness of the students' answers.
- Team Evaluation -- Ask each team member to evaluate their participation in the model building process and what they learned. (See Team Evaluation sheet.)
- Use the Water Cycle Assessment Test sheet to measure student understanding at different levels. The teacher can determine how many points constitute a letter grade.
Ash, D., & Kluger, B. B., (1999). Identifying Inquiry in the K-5 Classroom.
Instructional models engage students in scientific questions, provide opportunities for students to explore those questions, and require students to interpret data to create explanations. Good science inquiry involves learning through direct interaction with materials and phenomena. One important sign of inquiry is the relative level of control that the students have in determining various aspects of the learning experience.
Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., Pollock, J. E., (2001) Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Scientific thinking is enhanced through instructional methods such as identifying similarities and differences; summarizing and note taking; non-linguistic representation; cooperative learning; setting objectives and providing feedback; generating and testing hypotheses; and questions, cues, and advance organizers.