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 solveSolve: Water Park Mystery + Vocabulary Mind Map
Medium makeMake: Travel the Water Cycle
Medium engineerEngineer: Engineer a Water Conservation Solution

There are two options for The Solve! Choose to have your students solve either a live video mystery on why trees and fish are mysteriously dying in the Adirondacks or an animated mystery on why the local water park has been closed due to a water shortage. Students then interact with a Water Cycle vocabulary mind map. By the end of The Solve, students discover the interconnected paths of the water cycle. (140 mins total)

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

Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth's systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the ways water changes its state as it moves through the multiple pathways of the hydrologic cycle. Examples of models can be conceptual or physical.] [Assessment Boundary: A quantitative understanding of the latent heats of vaporization and fusion is not assessed.]

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 Title

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


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

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.