Resources for Teaching About the Hydrosphere
Windows to the Universe invites you to explore Earth's hydrosphere with your students via activities for the classroom. Listed below are activities that we have developed which are appropriate for middle school students. Click on the Beginner button above for activities appropriate for the elementary level, or click on the Advanced link for activities appropriate for high school level.
- Build a Model Watershed Students construct a model land surface and use the model to explore basic concepts of watersheds including that water flows downhill, that ridges of higher land can divide watersheds, that lower-lying areas can create pools, and that water quality is affected by what is upstream.
- The Land Plan Challenge Students work in groups to plan towns, being conscious of water resources - rivers and wetlands - and then learn how their town fits into the larger community.
- Exploring Density of Salt and Fresh Water: Par 5 This activity provides an introduction to the interaction of fresh and salt water, a phenomena that happens at many deltas and estuaries. It can also serve as an introduction to the concept of density.
- Thermal Expansion and Sea Level Rise Discover how water expands as it warms and how this phenomena affects the volume of water in the ocean and sea level.
- Mapping Ancient Coastlines Students draw the location of ancient coastlines onto a bathymetric contour map using skills in graph reading and map reading.
- Magnetometer Extensions Activity Students investigate evidence for seafloor spreading - magnetic reversals preserved in rocks on the seafloor - using a handmade magnetometer.
- Graphing Sea Ice Extent in the Arctic and Antarctic Check the pulse of the seasons, compare the amount of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean, and investigate long-term trends in sea ice cover.
- Food Chain Checkers Students play a game that models the dynamics of a simple marine food chain and then improve the model my making their own rules that better model the way food chains and ecosystems work. (1.8MB PDF)
- Growing Penguins Timeline Students match written descriptions and photographs of Adelie penguins at various stages of development then make a timeline of chick growth and development.
- The Traveling Nitrogen Game In this classroom activity, students play the role of nitrogen atoms traveling through the cycle, including through parts of the hydrosphere.
- Using the Carbon Cycle Interactive Game in the Classroom Through an online game, students learn how carbon cycles through the Earth system, including through parts of the hydrosphere.
Other Water Education Resources (links outside Windows to the Universe)
- Ocean Literacy Brochure: The Essential Principles of Ocean Sciences for K-12
- COSEE - Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence
- NOAA Ocean Service Education
- NOAA Ocean Explorer Education
- US Geological Survey Water Resources Education
- Project WET: Water Education for Teachers