Waves breaking near a coast
Courtesy of UCAR

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.

Surface Water

  • 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.


Marine Life

  • 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.

Biogeochemical Cycles

Other Water Education Resources (links outside Windows to the Universe)

Last modified January 9, 2009 by Lisa Gardiner.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA