Investigating the Water Cycle

Investigating the Water Cycle

Use this infographic to teach students about each part of the natural and urban water cycles, and then explore how humans fit into these cycles.


5 - 8


Conservation, Earth Science, Oceanography

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The water cycle describes how water vapor condenses to form precipitation, falls to the ground, and then evaporates, returning to the atmosphere. Prior to exploring the water cycle, have students share their existing knowledge by volunteering examples of water cycle processes in their local environment. Share the infographic and read the text in the center to help students connect their examples to the water cycle using scientific vocabulary. Have students create a graphic organizer to record and describe the main processes of the water cycle, including examples of each process.

Next, students can use the infographic to create a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the movement of water in natural versus urban areas. Prompt students to include how runoff differs between the two cycles using the infographic. As a class, research strategies to reduce urban runoff, such as planting native vegetation, reducing pesticide use, and installing permeable pavement. Challenge students to identify areas on campus that would benefit from one of the strategies and then develop a proposal explaining why the strategy should be implemented in that area.

As an extension, students can track their interactions with water for a day and then connect each interaction back to the natural or urban water cycle. Students should realize they are part of, and influence, the water cycle. Finally, have students brainstorm ways they can personally conserve water and reduce pollution. Challenge students to implement these strategies for one week and report on their experience.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Specialist, Content Production
Clint Parks
André Gabrielli, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

April 29, 2024

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