Unit Overview

In Mosa Mack’s Water Cycle unit, students are led through a progression of three inquiry lessons that focus on the distribution and cycling of water on Earth.

Lesson Overview

Medium s1v2 water cycleSolve: Water Park Mystery + Vocabulary Mind Map
Medium m2 water cycleMake: Travel the Water Cycle
Medium e3 water cycleEngineer: Engineer a Water Conservation Solution

Students contextualize Water Cycle vocabulary in a mind map before helping Mosa Mack solve the mystery of how to save the water park. By the end of The Solve, students discover the interconnected paths of the water cycle. (75 mins)

After going through a water cycle journey, students compare paths and draw a visual model that explains how water moves through the water cycle. (120 mins)

Students develop and design either a device for water conservation or a technical sketch of a solution to recycle and reuse water. (200 mins)

Next Generations Science Standards

Describe and graph the amounts and percentages of water and fresh water in various reservoirs to provide evidence about the distribution of water on Earth.
Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth's systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity

Science & Engineering Practices

  • Developing and Using Models
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • The Roles of Water in Earth's Surface Processes

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Energy and Matter
  • Scale, Proportion and Quantity

Inquiry Scale

  • Each lesson in the unit has an Inquiry Scale that provides directions on how to implement the lesson at the level that works best for you and your students.
  • “Level 1” is the most teacher-driven, and recommended for students in 4th-5th grades. “Level 4” is the most student-driven, and recommended for students in 7th-8th grades.
  • For differentiation within the same grade or class, use different inquiry levels for different groups of students who may require additional support or an extra challenge.

Common Misconceptions

  • Students may initially believe that water disappears and reappears. Emphasize that water is conserved in a continual cycle.
  • Students may think that water comes from one particular source. Encourage them to notice that water flows through the cycle along many continual pathways.
  • Students tend to believe that water travels through the water cycle in a predictable circular path. Emphasize that the path of water can be complex and is not always the same.


    • Precipitation
    • Evaporation
    • Transpiration
    • Condensation
    • Sublimation

Content Expert

  • Eric Pyle, PhD
    Professor, Department of Geology & Environmental Science James Madison University


  • Powerpoints for Make and Design
  • Vocabulary Cards
  • Vocabulary Mind Map
  • Solve Student Handout
  • Make Student Handout

New: RocketLit Leveled Reading

* To give our users the most comprehensive science resource, Mosa Mack is piloting a partnership with RocketLit, a provider of leveled science articles.

  • It's Not Magic . . . It's Just a Phase

    Medium 176 616
    In this article, students investigate the concepts of freezing point, boiling point, and melting point through a magic trick. They'll read about how a magician makes water change phase through heating and cooling at each of these temperatures.

  • Water Everywhere!

    Medium 117 195
    Water falls from the sky, but then what? This article looks at all the different places that students can find water on the surface of the earth and describes how water moves to and from each of these places.

  • Your Very Own Pet Water Drop

    Medium 139 437
    In this article, students read about the basic steps in the water cycle. The article discusses what causes most of the evaporation, how water drops gather together in the sky and why they fall back down to earth.