Earth Science Week 2021: Teaching About Water

This page was created in support of AGIs "Water Today and For the Future", October 10-16, 2021.

NAGT
Water, water everywhere! Make a list of the ways the topic of water touches your teaching. Water is one of Earth's most vital resources today and will remain so in the future. How do we teach about water? This page is designed to provide you with new ideas and resources for teaching about water.

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Featured Resources

You'll want to look at the activities linked below. Each was selected as an "NAGT Recommends" activity for the 2021 Earth Science Week theme: Water Today and for the Future.

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Water, Water Everywhere

Where is Earth's water located? This activity can be done as a demonstration or by students. Students estimate the proportion of Earth's water in oceans, icecaps/glaciers, groundwater, lakes, soil, rivers and the atmosphere.

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Provenance: Aida Awad, AIU
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My Water Footprint

This lesson centers on a deeper exploration of the water footprint associated with food. How much water is needed for food products, explore key aspects of water use related to food and agriculture, and how is their diet is influenced by social groups, advertising, and structures in place at home and at school.

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Tracking Water Using NASA Satellite Data

Using real data from NASA's GRACE satellites, students will track water mass changes in the U.S., data that measures changes in ice, surface and especially groundwater. Students will estimate water resources using heat-map data, create a line graph for a specific location, then assess trends and discuss implications.

What is Sustainability in the context of water?

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Asking questions and defining problems, analyzing data, and making claims from evidence are important science and engineering practices that are employed in the three activities that make up this module. Students jigsaw water statistics, define sustainability in terms of water, and consider food production in cases of unsustainable water use.

Heat capacity of water and warming oceans

Water absorbs more heat than air. This engaging demonstration illustrates the difference in the heat capacity of air and water. Extension questions encourage students to think about how the heat capacity of water impacts global temperatures, ocean temperatures, the weather, ice sheets and glaciers, and other surface processes involving water.

Water resources and water footprints

This lesson helps students understand why Earth is considered the "water planet." Students analyze how much of Earth's water is available for humans to use for life-sustaining purposes, and they explore the concept of water scarcity in both physical and economic terms. Students explore how water footprints are an invaluable tool for identifying patterns of water use so that individuals, businesses, and even nations can more effectively manage their use of one of the most precious resources on Earth: water.

Hurricanes: EarthLab Unit

A unit that includes 9 engaging labs that where students investigate causes and effects of hurricanes.

Melting Ice cubes

Explore how melting of ice cubes floating in water is influenced by the salinity of the water. Important oceanographic concepts like density and density driven currents are visualized and can be discussed on the basis of this experiment.

Variable Rivers

This activity is designed to be used as an introduction to rivers and river processes. Students will be working in small groups to test an isolated variable in rivers; they will test either the amount of water, velocity of water, or steepness of the river bed to determine how those variables affect the size and shapes of rivers.

Build your own Earth

Build Your Own Earth is a freely available web site to explore the factors that affect Earth's climate. Climate model simulations reveal the annual distributions of 50 different quantities.

Rainwater harvesting service learning project

Students will gain an understanding of the history, benefits, and components of a rainwater harvesting system and partner with community members to design and build a rainwater harvesting system for their school.

2021 Earth Science Week theme: Water Today and for the Future. Opportunities for students to engage in the importance of water across Earth's systems appear in many disciplinary core ideas, DCIs, in the Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS, and the Framework for K-12 Science Education. The list below shows the major water related topics found in the NGSS DCIs.

ESS2 - Earth's systems

  • MS-ESS2.A Earth Materials and Systems
    • Hydrologic cycle - as a foundational concept
  • HS-ESS2.C The roles of water in Earth surface processes
    • Physical and chemical properties of water are central to dynamics of Earth
  • MS-ESS2.C The roles of water in Earth surface processes
    • Hydrological cycle
    • Water cycle and weather patterns
    • Temperature and salinity drive ocean currents
    • Water as a weathering and erosional agent
  • MS-ESS2.D - Weather and climate
    • Ocean influence on weather and climate - energy driven

ESS3 - Earth and Human Activity

  • HS-ESS3.A - Earth and Human Activity - Natural resources
    • Water as a natural resource - economic, social, environmental and geopolitical factors
    • Water as natural resource - limited and uneven distribution
  • MS-ESS3.C Human impacts on Earth systems
    • Consumption of water as a natural resource has impacts on Earth - engineering
  • HS-ESS3.D Global climate change
    • Ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere interact and are modified in response to human activities


Resources from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers

The National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) works to foster improvement in the teaching of the Earth sciences at all levels of formal and informal instruction, to emphasize the cultural significance of the Earth sciences and to disseminate knowledge in this field to the general public. For more information about NAGT visit our web site. We encourage membership from all those who are engaged in the teaching of Earth science - join NAGT today!

NAGT Awards and Grant Opportunities

Outstanding Earth Science Teacher (OEST) awards are given for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Sciences at the pre-college level." Any teacher or other K-12 educator who covers a significant amount of earth science content with their students is eligible. For more information about the award and to submit a nomination visit the OEST Awards page.

Dorothy Stout Professional Development Grants
Dottie Stout was the first female president of NAGT and was active as a strong supporter of earth science education at all levels. In honor of Dottie's outstanding work and lifelong dedication to Earth Science Education, NAGT awards grants to faculty and students at 2 year colleges and K-12 teachers in support of the following:

  • Participation in Earth science classes or workshops
  • Attendance at professional scientific or science education meetings
  • Participation in Earth science field trips
  • Purchase of Earth science materials for classroom use

Grants of $750 will be made annually in three categories: Community College Faculty, Community College Student, and K-12 Educator. For more information about the award visit the Stout Grants page.

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