One of our main areas of focus in River Classroom is water. By the end of the year, we expect our students to be familiar with the concepts of how much water is on Earth, where that water is found, and how much is usable for humans. This concept helps students understand why we need to protect our freshwater resources in the first place.
Our Española 4th-6th grade River Classroom spent the day learning these concepts.
We began with a brief discussion about water to assess our students’ level of knowledge.
Then we divided into two groups for different activities. One group modeled the amount of water on Earth with a 5 gallon bucket. Students were surprised to see this dramatic demonstration of exactly how little of the water on Earth is usable for people.
The second group modeled the water cycle with a camping stove. They observed evaporation, condensation, and “precipitation,” and they acted out the motions of the molecules in these changes of state.
After all students had completed both activities (and after a lunch break), we went on to play a game centered on water on Earth. We had seven stations representing seven places where water is found (oceans, glaciers, plants/animals, atmosphere, etc.). At each station students color in a box on a worksheet representing a turn at that location. Each station had a dice for students to roll. The number on the dice would determine the students’ actions and whether the student would remain at the same station or move to a different one.
After students had completed 100 rolls of the dice, they calculated the number of times and the percentage of times that they spent at each station. Many students spent a lot of time in the ocean or as groundwater.
This game emphasizes that while water moves through the water cycle, sometimes it gets “stuck” in one form or another, where it can stay for a very long time.
Our students did a great job and have a much better understanding of water on Earth. This introduction was the perfect set up to learning why our water quality measurements are so important later in the year.