Objective: To physically demonstrate to the students the path a drop of water must take to complete the hydrologic cycle.

Materials: Lots of space, chalk or masking tape to mark out sides, balloons

Divide class into groups of five. On each team, assign one of the paths taken in a water drop's trip through the water cycle to the child - It drops from a cloud and lands on the top of a mountain, then rolls down the mountain and finds a small stream, flowing with the other water drops, it comes to a river, which then flows into the ocean, finally evaporating back into a cloud.

The children should line up in this order, with enough distance between them to make a distance relay: 1) the cloud child, 2) the mountain child, 3) the stream child, 4) the river child, 5) the ocean child.

If you want, you may have the class design the paths to take. It's more fun and challenging if there are things to climb and crawl through as is found in most school yards. Set up boundaries with cups or pylons so each team knows when to trade off the balloon.

Fill a balloon with water to represent a water drop (you may not wish to deal with this potential wet disaster if a balloon "accidentally" gets dropped, so just use balloons filled with air, or one filled with air and a small amount of water. In addition, you'll be saving water, so be sure to point this out to the class).

Hand each cloud a balloon and let the relay begin. The cloud child should follow the designated path, then hand off to the mountain child, who then follows a designated path and hands off to the stream child, etc.

After completing the relay, change the situation - what happens to the drop that falls directly into the ocean? Or what happens to the water drop in the winter? Or how does the relay change if the water is absorbed into the soil and goes into the groundwater or is taken up by a stalk of corn?

Complete "The Returning Raindrop" activity in the Water Sourcebook.

Vocabulary Glossary:
Condensation: The act or process of reducing a gas vapor to a liquid or solid state
Evaporation: The act or process of converting or changing into a vapor with the application of heat.
Precipitation: Water droplets or ice particles condensed from atmospheric water vapor and sufficiently massive to fall to the earth's surface, such as rain or snow
Solar energy: The conversion of direct sunlight into usable forms of energy
Water vapor: Water in the gas phase

Activity source: Nebraska Groundwater Foundation Outreach Packet
Grade Level:

Subject Areas:
Science, Reading

SD Standards for 4th grade:

4.R.1.1; 4.R.1.2



Prior Preparation:This activity is designed to compliment the two water cycle activities in "Droplets".

condensation, evaporation, precipitation, solar energy, water vapor

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