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Modeling Water Bodies

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Summary

Grade Range
2nd
Group Size
4 students
Active Time
1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time
1 hour 10 minutes
Area of Science
Geology
Key Concepts
water bodies
Credits
Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
Three images showing an ocean model, a river model, and a lake model, inside an aluminum pan.

Overview

In this lesson plan, students investigate different types of water bodies on Earth by making models of lakes, oceans, and rivers inside an aluminum pan using various materials and real water. By describing each water body and sharing their observations about their differences and similarities, students will be able to identify the typical characteristics of each water body.

Learning Objectives

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Science & Engineering Practices Developing and Using Models. Develop a model to represent patterns in the natural world

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information. Communicate information or design ideas with others in oral form using models that provide detail about scientific ideas.
Disciplinary Core Ideas ESS2.C: The Roles of Water in the Earth's Surface Processes. Water is found in the ocean, rivers, lakes, and ponds. Water exists as solid ice and in liquid form.
Crosscutting Concepts Patterns. Patterns in the natural world can be observed.

Materials

Materials needed for the 'Water Bodies In a Pan' Lesson Plan.

Background Information for Teachers

This section contains a quick review for teachers of the science and concepts covered in this lesson.

There is lots of water on our planet! About 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by water. Any significant accumulation of water on a planet's surface is called a body of water or water body. Water bodies range from huge oceans to tiny ponds, and from large rivers to small streams. The table below lists different types of water bodies and includes their definitions based on Wikipedia. You will find a more comprehensive list in the referenced article in the Additional Background section.

Type of water body Definition [cited from Wikipedia]
Ocean"A major body of salty water."
Lake "A body of water, usually freshwater, of relatively large size contained inside a body of land."
Pond "A body of water smaller than a lake, often of artificial origin. (Note: a pond is similar to a lake but smaller.)"
River "A natural waterway usually formed by water derived from either precipitation or glacial meltwater, which flows from higher ground to lower ground."
Stream "A body of water with a detectable current, confined within a bed and banks. (Note: a stream is similar to a river but smaller.)"
Puddle "A small accumulation of water on a surface, usually the ground."

All these water bodies are distinct from one another in various ways. They can hold freshwater or saltwater, vary in size or shape, and have different water movements. The table below provides a non-exhaustive list of some typical characteristics of different water bodies.

Type of water body Characteristics
Ocean
  • Saltwater
  • Very large
  • Big waves
  • Has tidal water movement (low and high tide)
  • Has islands
  • Long stretches without land
  • Very deep
Lake
  • Mostly freshwater
  • Lies on land and is not part of the ocean
  • Surrounded by land
  • Can be deep and shallow
  • Warm at the surface and cold in the deep
  • Can have islands
  • Usually not much water movement
  • Fed by a river or groundwater
  • Many are drained by rivers
  • Some lakes are artificially made by a dam
  • The same water level in all parts
River
  • Freshwater
  • Flowing water
  • Has a source (start) and a mouth (end)
  • Flows downhill towards a lake, an ocean, or another river
  • Usually confined to a channel or a riverbed
  • The water level varies along its path
  • Has distinct channel patterns such as meandering, straight, or braided.
  • Fed by surface waters and groundwater

In this lesson plan, students investigate different types of water bodies on Earth by making models of lakes, oceans, and rivers inside an aluminum pan using various materials and real water. By describing each water body and sharing their observations about their differences and similarities, students will be able to identify the typical characteristics of each water body.

Prep Work (20 minutes)

Engage (10 minutes)

Explore (30 minutes)

Reflect (30 minutes)

Make Career Connections

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