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Lesson 3: “Grass Under Glass” from Wild About Weather



Objectives:  After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

·        Observe the water cycle in a closed system

·        Describe the path of a water molecule over a period of ten days

·        Draw a diagram of the water cycle


Key Question: How can you see the water cycle?


Overview:  If even a small patch of lawn is available to your students, they can interrupt the water cycle on a sunny day by placing a cup upside down on the grass.  Moisture will soon condense inside the cup.  The teacher should follow up this discovery activity with some lecture or class reading on the water cycle (P. H. text, p. 285).

The “Drippy Tales” maze encourages students to follow a raindrop through a small water cycle in a pond.  In a culminating assessment students illustrate in cartoon form the adventures of a water drop over a period of ten days.


Time Required:  45-60 minutes (1 class session)



·        clear plastic cups or  glass jars

·        a lawn

·        paper and pencil; crayons or markers

·        copies of “Drippy Tales” copycat page on p. 14 of Ranger Rick’s NatureScope: Wild About Weather

·        (optional for discussion) Prentice Hall transparency: #36 Exploring the Water Cycle


Procedure:  See p. 12 in Ranger Rick’s NatureScope: Wild About Weather


Assessment:  Students will draw a cartoon strip illustrating the adventures of a water drop through a complete water cycle.  The water drop should end in the same state or general location at which it began.  A very complete water cycle illustration would show water as water vapor, cloud droplets, precipitation, flowing water, standing water, and a biological constituent.  A class comparison of water cycle strips should bring out the variety of possible cycles through which water may travel.


OUSD Science Content Standards (State of California Science Content Standards):

4a, 6b, 7h


National Wildlife Federation, Ranger Rick’s NatureScope, Wild About Weather. Triangle Learning Triangle Press, An Imprint of McGraw-Hill, New York, 1989, 1998.




Notes:  The lesson description suggests that students also try inverting the cup over dirt.  They may as well try asphalt or concrete too.  Condensation in these trials should be less or entirely absent.