Drip, Drop, Drought 3rd - 6th | Lesson 1, Series #7

Key Topics: Water Cycle, Watersheds, Precipitation, Evaporation, Drought, Graphing

Grade Levels: 3rd-6th

Click here for #7 Series Description

In this lesson students will review the water cycle by diagramming terminology, learn watersheds to better understand human impacts on water resources, especially through local geography, and graph precipitation data to visualize the severity of California’s drought and become familiar with digital graphing.

- MS:

- MS-ESS2-4 How does water cycle, and what drives each step of the process?
- MS-ESS3-2 Using data, forecast future droughts and suggest ways to mitigate their effect.

Essential Question(s) that Connect CCCs and SEPs:

- How can we use math to describe and measure this scale of the drought? (Scale; Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking)
- What does the data tell us about the weather patterns or climate in our watershed? (Energy & Matter; Analyzing & Interpreting Data)

Vocabulary

Water Cycle- The path that water takes as it moves around earth in different states

Watersheds- An area of land from which all the water drains into a single river, lake, or body of water

Precipitation- Any liquid or frozen water that forms in the atmosphere and falls back to the earth

Evaporation- The process of water changing to gas or vapor and floating up into the atmosphere

Drought- When there is a lack of precipitation over an extended period of time

Graphing - A diagram that shows the relationship between two or more changing things

- An index card with local precipitation data (see prep)
- Clipboards
- Graph Paper
- Pencils
- Whiteboard + markers
- Rainfall Data
- Rulers (optional)
- Graphing the Drought Garden Journal (optional)

- Look up local precipitation data for the current or previous year. Write down how many inches were received in each month and add this to a notecard or your phone. You can go off of this, when adding information to the whiteboard and helping students make a graph.
- Have your whiteboard out and ready with working markers.
- Have clipboards prepped with graph paper and pencils
- Depending on prior knowledge of students this lesson can go quickly or slowly, it is always a good idea to check out the extension section below for some filler ideas if you end early.

Engage:

Have you ever heard of a drought before? What is a drought (a prolonged period of less than average rainfall). Do we have droughts in California? What patterns have you noticed about when it rains? Does it rain more seasons than other seasons?

Explore:

What would the school garden look like during a drought? Go for a short walk in the garden and look at the plants and animals you see there. How would they be affected by a drought? What would happen if there was less water?

Explain:

Thumbs up/down: Do you think we are in a drought?

Think, Pair, Share: Do you have any ideas of how we could measure how much rain we get?

We use a rain gauge! A rain gauge helps us measure rain in inches. Who can show me what an inch looks like using your fingers? (let all the kids show you an inch).

We use a rain gauge! A rain gauge helps us measure rain in inches. Who can show me what an inch looks like using your fingers? (let all the kids show you an inch). Droughts come in patterns and cycles. Just like how there are times of the year when there is more rain than other times of the year, there are years when we get more rain and years when we get less. As more and more people are using water, droughts become worse. Increased temperatures from climate change also affect rainfall patterns. Scientists believe this could lead to dry years being even drier than they used to be. Before we can figure out what ways to help people prepare for drought, we need to figure how wet or dry a year is compared to other years. Do you have any ideas how we could do this?

Action:

Option 1: ‘Rainfall Graphing’ Students translate precipitation data into a visual point graph on a piece of graph paper. (If graphing seems a bit too advanced for your students, demonstrate on the board, and have students replicate your graph. You can also use a bar graph as that is often easier for kids to understand.)

- Review your Garden Agreements
- Have students put their names on paper.
- Students label graph paper with Inches of Rainfall in (name of town) in (year).
- Introduce the concept of graphs and explain what a point graph is. Draw the x and y axes on the board and label with names of the months and numbers in inches starting with 0 at where the x and y axes intersect.
- Give some made up examples of rainfall received in a given month and call on students to mark above the appropriate month at the number of inches it rained that month. This helps other students understand what they need to do. Once you feel the students have had enough examples, move on to the next step. (Again, if you need to do the entire activity as a group, continue that way! Or split students into groups of three or four to work together.)
- Mill around and offer support to students who are struggling.
- Have students color in below the mark to the bottom creating a bar graph.

You can also use the garden journal for this lesson as a bar graph example and have students copy this method creating a bar graph with local rainfall measurements onto the back of their garden journal .

Reflect:

Why is it helpful to look at a graph instead of just numbers? What pattern(s) did you notice on your graphs? Did some months get more rain and others less? Does it match with the pattern we already discussed about which seasons get more rain? Which month got the least amount of rain? Which one got the most? Do we have enough information from this graph to tell if we are in a drought (We’d need some additional year’s data too). What can we do to save water?

- Compare other years of the same city or local cities and watersheds and present a classroom exhibit on it!
- Figure out what it means to find the ‘average’, and determine what the average rainfall is per month, or per year based on precipitation data.
- Find a local meteorologist as a guest speaker to talk about local impacts to water supply and weather/climate patterns and changes
- Read the book Alejandro’s Gift or another picture book about drought.
- Sing the Water cycle boogie song - write out the lyrics and have the students learn the song with you!

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