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Water Cycle Game

In this game, students challenging each other in a moving, interactive, full-body, sound effect version of Rock, Paper and Scissors that incorporates four different stages of the water cycle:

  • condensation
  • precipitation
  • runoff
  • ocean accumulation.

This game demonstrates how water particles may take different pathways while still being part of the same water cycle.

The simplified water cycle:

  • The vast majority (~97%) of our water is found in the ocean.
  • Water from all of the sources (ocean, soil, lake, rivers, mountain tops, etc.) evaporates because of solar energy heating up the water particles.
  • Water droplets in the sky condense and forms clouds. When the condensation of water droplets in a cloud increases, precipitation occurs as rain or snow.
  • All of the water landing on the Earth’s surface will move from high elevation to low elevation following the path of least resistance, flowing downhill as runoff, on its way to the sea along the surface in a stream or river.
  • Water eventually flows to the ocean where it accumulates until the water evaporates and the cycle continues. Some of the water gets collected into our water treatment tanks before it can unite with the ocean.
  • Evaporation and precipitation are the links that keep the water cycle going.

Objectives

  • Describe the water cycle in simple terms.

Materials

  • Per Class:
    space to move around (classroom or outdoor area)
    students divided into 3 or 4 groups

Key Questions

  • How many cycles did you go through before you made it back to the ocean?
  • Does every water particle follow the same path through the water cycle? Where did you stay for the longest?
  • How does rain form in clouds?
  • How does water in lakes and oceans move to form clouds?

What To Do

Set-up

  1. Divide the room/play area into four sections in the following clockwise order: clouds (condensation), rain (precipitation), river (runoff) and ocean (accumulation).
  2. Get all students to start in the ocean section of the room.

Game Instructions

  1. All the students start out as water particles that are part of the ocean. Ocean water particles make side-to-side swooshing wave motions and will challenge other ocean particles to Rock, Paper and Scissors.
  2. The winning ocean particles (paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, scissors beat paper) stays in the ocean, while the losing student evaporates and condenses into a cloud particle and moves to the cloud area.
  3. Water particles continue to challenge other water particles at the same stage as them as they move through the cycle. At any stage, whichever water particle loses will always evaporate and condense into a cloud particle. The cycle order is cloud,  rain, river to ocean, with ocean particles remaining in the ocean until they lose.
  4. At each stage, have students act out their water stage.
  • Cloud particles hold their arms out curved away from the body to act like a fluffy cloud.
  • Rain particles act out the movement and sound of sprinkling rain (“pitter, patter”).
  • River water particles roar like rivers and wave their arms up and down.
  1. Have students rotate around the room at the pace of the game until everyone has made it through the water cycle at least once and the teacher says “stop.”

Extensions

  • Draw the water cycle on chart paper. Include examples of human, other animals, and plant uses as part of the water cycle.
  • How do humans impact the simple water cycle?