Water: A Mini Unit

Water covers 3/4 of our world and it is necessary to our very lives. Here is a fun unit that explores that most vital of elements.

1. Look at globe, a world map, or a picture taken of earth taken from space to see why Earth is called the water planet. Find out what H20 means and give three good reasons why nothing can live without it.

2. Compare the difference between salt water and fresh water. Find out which one:

-- Boils first
-- Freezes first
-- Yields salt crystals
-- Makes better soapsuds
-- Makes floating easier

3. Find out ways that water carries things and leaves them behind by doing the following activities:

-- Shake up a jar of water with some gravel, sand, silt, and clay. Watch which settles first and how layers of sediment form.

-- Look for fossils of water life in nature or in things made from stone (for example, in buildings, tables, etc.).

-- Trace the "waterways" inside plants and animals. Explain how food and other life-needs are carried by sap and blood.

-- Look closely along a shoreline for debris, such as shells, pebbles, plants, bottles, and decaying matter. Figure out where it came from, how it got theree, and what is likely to happen to it.

-- Find out what causes cloudiness in water. You may need to use a filter, a plankton net, a magnifying glass, or a microscope.

4. Look at things that live underwater. Visit a place like an aquarium, set up your own aquarium, or make a waterscope to help you observe a water habitat. Choose at least three of the following and figure out how or why:

-- Some kinds of water life move
-- Some kinds of water life stay in one place
-- Most fish have light-colored bellies and dark colored backs
-- Some fish swim in schools
-- Some water creatures have shells or can close themselves up
-- Some forms of water life live under or on the bottom, some in the middle, and some on the surface of the water

5. Carefully watch:

-- Things floating with a current or in a whirlpool
-- The flow or drip from a faucet or hose
-- Ripples in a pool or waves along a shore
-- The rise and fall of the tide

6. After activity number 5, use water in motion to:

-- Have a race with floating objects like leaves or toy boats
-- Measure tidal differences and check them with a tide table
-- Hand a boat safely in waves or a current
-- Swim safely in waves or a current
-- Learn how a toilet works
-- Collect and measure the amount of water that would be wasted if you let a faucet drip for one hour

7. Try at least one of the following float tests:

-- Make a floating toy and try it out in a bathtub or pool
-- Show how to fall into water and float with your clothes on
-- Test PFDs (personal flotation devices) for fit and see how they help you float

8. Look closely at places where land and water meet and tow the following:

-- Measure water depths. Mark shallow areas where its safe to wade or deep areas where it is safe to dive.
-- Dig and sculpt clay or sand into an imaginary water creature.
-- Look for living things that burrow in mud or sand.
-- Cast animal tracks you find by the water's edge.
-- Find out how to tell a good place to anchor a boat.

9. Show that you understand the water cycle.

-- Explain why the planet's water is never used up.
-- Trace the life of a raindrop.
-- Show how a plant or animal takes in and gives off water.
-- Purify water using a solar sill.
-- Figure out how a dinosaur's breath could recycle as a snowflake today.

10. Chose at least one of the following activities about the food chain in salt or in fresh water.

-- Trail a plankton net through the water and look closely at what you collect. Find out where plankton fits in a food chain you are a part of. Find out how much plankton it takes to fee a whale.

-- Catch, dig, or buy food from the sea or fresh water. Clean and make a tasty dish with fish, shellfish, seaweed, watercress, etc.

-- Set up and keep up an aquarium for at least one week. Balance the numbers and kinds of living things with a healthy food and water supply.

11. Change the temperature of water to show how it acts in its three states: frozen, liquid, and gas.

12. Figure out ways that water, wind, and weather go together.

13. Visit a place where water has been put to work, such as at a sewage or water treatment plant, an irrigation control center, a mining operation, a power plant, a fish hatchery, or a physical therapy center.

14. Tour a work boat, such as a ferry, barge, research vessel, tugboat, cargo ship, commercial fishing boat, dive boat, Navy vessel, or Coast Guard cutter.

15. Find out what it means to be an oceanographer, an hydrologist. Or limnologist. Look for ways that these jobs are like any other scientist's job and ways that the water setting makes them special.


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