The Water Cycle
Water rains down to the earth on stormy days. It gets soaked up into the ground. Water movement is part of the water cycle. The water cycle is important to all living things on the earth!
There are other cycles in your life. Your daily routine is a cycle: You wake up. You go to school. You ride the bus home. You go to soccer practice. You eat dinner. You go to bed. These events are part of a cycle. This cycle repeats itself every weekday. The water cycle is also a set of repeated events that happen over and over again.
Evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection are the repeated events in the water cycle. These events happen over and over again.
Water is stored in bodies of water, like lakes. Water floats up to the top of the lake. The water turns into a gas and the gas rises up into the air. This happens because there is less water in the air than in the lake. Water does not like being around too much other water. Water wants to go where there is less water.
When liquid water is turned into a gas, this is during evaporation. The gas is called water vapor. Leave a glass of water out overnight. You will see the level drop. This is an example of evaporation. The water in the glass will turn into vapor. The vapor will be in the air.
Water gets cold as it floats in the air. The gas turns back into a liquid, and the liquid becomes a cloud. This is called condensation.
Condensation happens on the outside of a cup of soda with ice. The cup looks like it's sweating.The sweat comes from water vapor from the air. The vapor gets cold when it hits the icy surface of the cup. The vapor turns into a liquid!
Water falls from the clouds down to the earth during precipitation. Water essentially falls when there's too much water in the air. It becomes rain, snow, sleet, or hail. Rain is the liquid form of water. Snow, sleet, and hail are all solid forms of water.
Water is stored after it falls down to the earth. Water evaporates again. Evaporation starts the water cycle over again.
Water is stored in lakes, rivers, and oceans during collection. Water is also stored in soil for plants and animals. Water can also be stored in rocks deep in the earth.
Okay, let's review what we've learned. The water cycle is a set of repeated events. The repeated events are evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection.
- Evaporation happens when water gets warmed up and turns into a gas
- Condensation happens when water gas gets cold and turns back into a liquid
- Precipitation happens when water falls back to the earth
- Collection happens when water is stored in lakes, rivers, oceans, soil, and rocks
The water cycle has a lot of different moving parts, but now you have a clearer idea of how it all works!
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Young learners will design and create their own miniature water cycle model using commonly available materials to demonstrate their understanding of this phenomenon.
Get Your Learner Interested by Asking Questions:
Questions may be initiated by the learner or educator. They are intended to get the learner thinking about the water cycle so they may use this information to create their own miniature water cycle model.
- What are the different forms of water in the water cycle? Where would we find them in everyday life? Gaseous water (clouds, fog, humidity, breath on a cold day), liquid water (rain, bodies of water, run-off, puddle), solid water (snow, ice, frost)
- How do the different forms of water affect us in our daily lives? Think about choices in clothing and footwear, outdoor activities, safety considerations, etc.
- Take an outdoor exploration walk and ask, "Where could we look for water outside? Can we find natural and human-made water sources in our community?" Natural - ponds, lakes, streams, puddles, etc. Human-made - water fountain, reservoir, ditches, swimming pool.
- How does the season affect the forms of water we see outside? Winter - solid forms of water (snow, sleet, ice), summer - liquid forms of water (rain, mist, puddles)
Now that your learner is engaged in the concept of the water cycle, gather some simple materials to build a miniature water cycle model.
- Rubber band
- Large bowl
- Plastic wrap
- Hot (but not boiling) water (can be heated in a kettle, stove, or microwave with supervision)
- Ice cubes
- Place the mug in the middle of a large bowl.
- Cautiously fill the bowl approximately two thirds full with hot water. Do not put any water in the mug.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band.
- Place ice cubes on top of plastic wrap above the mug.
Can you identify where evaporation, condensation, and precipitation are occurring? The learner should notice that the hot water evaporates and condenses on the plastic wrap, especially where the ice cubes are located. As sufficient vapor condenses, it forms droplets that can be collected in the mug below, simulating rainfall.
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