Monday, August 15, 2011

Fourth grade science: The Water Cycle

Fourth grade science: The Water Cycle

My child loved learning the water cycle in fourth grade. It gave her a great sense of accomplishment to be able to tell me the steps a drop of water went through. Your fourth grader will probably enjoy learning about this cycle, too. It is so orderly, and so logical that children seem to “get it” after only a little bit of explanation. Did you know that there is no “new” water? Theoretically, all the water on the planet is all the water that was originally formed. Water just undergoes a change of state and is infinitely recycled. There are four steps in the water cycle: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Many times the description of the water cycle for fourth graders is condensed a bit, including only evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. Evaporation is the process by which heat from the sun causes liquid water to go from its liquid state to a gaseous state, to water vapor. Then this water vapor cools as it rises in the atmosphere. At some point the water returns to is liquid form. This process is condensation. The water is then too heavy to remain in the atmosphere and falls to the earth as rain, or snow, depending on the temperature. This is the precipitation phase. Collection, if included in the lesson, is simply the water flowing back through streams and rivers, until it finally collects in the large bodies of water, such as lakes and oceans. There is an experiment that you can perform in your own kitchen to help your child understand the water cycle. In a pot on the stove, heat up water until it turns to steam. Place a glass lid on the pot and remove from heat. The steam will condense on the lid as it cools, returning to the liquid form, then dripping back into the main body of water in the pot as mini-precipitation. I can assure you that the hands on experiment will help your child remember the order and process of the water cycle.

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