10 mins

Students will learn how to create a good scientific argument in the context of freshwater availability. They will continuously encounter questions that ask them to make a claim, explain their answer, rate their certainty with their answer, and explain that rating.

DIRECTIONS

Tell students that Activity 1 (Constructing an Argument) of the lesson Will There be Enough Fresh Water? introduces the structure of the scientific argumentation they will be asked to do for the rest of the lesson. Tell students that Activity 1 will give them practice with analyzing a data set and making a good scientific argument from the evidence. Encourage students to review the questions and example best answers provided in Activity 1 before starting on the current activity.

45 mins
Total Water on Earth. Copyright 2008. United National Environment Programme.

Students explore how water moves above and below Earth's surface by using interactive computational models. Then they examine the supply and demand issues around their local water source(s), and they meet a hydrogeologist who introduces students to some of the issues around the sustainability of fresh water sources around the world.

DIRECTIONS

1. Engage students in thinking about how water is distributed on Earth.

Show the Earth from Space photograph. Tell students that most of Earth is covered with water. Show the Diagram of Water Distribution on Earth. (In media carousel; click the photographs. Click the image and carousel down arrows to see the full image.) Ask: 

  • How much of the water is available for us to use for things like drinking and crop irrigation—things that require fresh water? (Less than 3% of the total water on Earth is fresh water.) 
  • How does water cycle through Earth's systems? (Water moves throughout Earth's systems through precipitation, runoff, and evaporation, among other processes.) 

 

2. Discuss the role of uncertainty in the scientific process.

Tell students that science is a process of learning how the world works and that scientists do not know the “right” answers when they start to investigate a question. We see examples of scientists' uncertainty in the forecasting of precipitation amounts. Have students go to the NOAA National Weather Service. Ask them to input their zip codes into the "Local forecast by "City, St" or ZIP code" box in the top left (under "Home"), hit “Go”, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on the “Hourly Weather Graph”. This page shows the hourly weather forecast for your area. The first box shows the predicted temperature and dewpoint (along with wind chill or heat index, when applicable). The second box shows the predicted wind speed and direction. The third box shows the predicted sky cover (i.e. cloud cover), relative humidity, and chance for precipitation. The boxes below that line show whether the precipitation is likely to be rain, snow, freezing rain, or sleet. Point out the line for precipitation potential (the brown line). Ask: 

  • Why is the precipitation shown as a “%”? (Precipitation is dependent on other factors, such as relative humidity and temperature. It is more likely to precipitate when the temperature is the same as or lower than the dewpoint.) 
  • If there is a likelihood of precipitation, why is the amount of rain/snow shown as ranges? (The amount of precipitation that will fall is dependent on the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. The atmosphere is continually changing, so the amounts are guidelines for what could happen rather than perfect predictions.)

 

Tell students that they will be asked questions about the certainty of their predictions and that they should think about what scientific data is available as they assess their certainty with their answers. Encourage students to discuss the scientific evidence with each other to better assess their level of certainty with their predictions.

 

3. Introduce the concept of systems in Earth's water resources.

Tell students that forecasting what will happen in Earth's climate system is a complicated process because there are many different interacting parts. Scientists think about how one part of the system can affect other parts of the system. Give students a simple example of a system, as described in the scenario below.

 

On an island, there is a population of foxes and a population of rabbits. The foxes prey on the rabbits. Ask: 

  • When there are a lot of rabbits, what will happen to the fox population? (It will increase because there is an ample food supply.) Ask:
  • What happens to the fox population when they’ve eaten most of the rabbits? (The foxes will die of starvation as their food supply decreases.) 
  • What happens to the amount of grass when the fox population is high? (The amount of grass will increase because there are fewer rabbits to eat the grass.)
  • If there is a drought and the grass doesn’t grow well, what will happen to the populations of foxes and rabbits? (The rabbit population will decrease because they have a lesser food supply. The fox population should also decrease as their food supply decreases.)

Humans introduce dogs to the island. The dogs compete with the foxes over the rabbit food supply. Ask: What will happen to the populations of foxes, rabbits, and grass after the dogs are introduced? (The foxes will decrease because they’re sharing their food supply, the rabbits will decrease because they’ve got more predation, and the grass will do well because of the lowered impact of the smaller rabbit population.)

 

Tell students that simple cause-effect relationships can expand into more complex system relationships. Let students know that they will be exploring the relationship between how sediments and rock types affect groundwater movement. Encourage students to think about how human actions play a role in changes in the flow of water and in freshwater availability.

 

4. Introduce and discuss the use of computational models.

Introduce the concept of computational models, and give students an example of a computational model that they may have seen, such as forecasting the weather. The weather forecast provides a good example of how model input is used to predict future conditions. Project the NOAA Weather Forecast Model, which provides a good example of a computational model. Tell students that scientists used current information about the energy and moisture in the atmosphere as an input to the model and that what they see on the weather map is the output of the model's calculations.


5. Have students launch the Availability of Fresh Water interactive.

Provide students with the link to the Availability of Fresh Water interactive. Divide students into groups of two or three, with two being the ideal grouping to allow groups to share a computer workstation. Tell students they will be working through a series of pages of models and data with related questions. Ask students to work through the activity in their groups, discussing and responding to questions as they go.

 

NOTE: You can access the Answer Key for students' questions—and save students' data for online grading—through a free registration on the High-Adventure Science portal page.

 

Let students know that this is Activity 2 of the Will There Be Enough Fresh Water? lesson. 

 

6. Discuss the issues.

After students have completed the activity, bring the groups back together and lead a discussion focusing on the following questions. Ask:

  • When water falls on the ground, what can happen to it? (Water that falls on the ground can run off into streams or it can be absorbed into the ground. Students may also say that water can evaporate.)
  • Why is water considered a renewable resource? (Water is considered a renewable resource because it cycles through the ground and atmosphere.)
  • What are some ways that humans have affected the quantity and quality of water supplies around the world? (Humans have changed the surface, which has allowed less water to infiltrate the surface. They have pulled water out of very deep aquifers in desert areas. They have inadvertently contaminated some water supplies.)

Informal Assessment

1.  Check students' comprehension by asking students the following questions:

  • When water falls on the ground, what can happen to it?
  • Why is water considered a renewable resource?

 2.  Use the answer key to check students' answers on embedded assessments.

45 mins
Center pivot irrigation on wheat growing in Yuma County, Colorado. 1987

Students explore maps to discover the distribution of fresh water resources on Earth, and they examine graphs to discover how fresh water supplies are used by humans.

DIRECTIONS

1. Engage students in thinking about how fresh water is used.

Tell students in this activity they will be taking a close look at how humans use water—both in direct and indirect ways. They will examine the relationship between freshwater distribution and populations, and they will analyze the costs and benefits of putting dams on rivers and streams. To begin, ask: How do you use fresh water? (Student answer will vary, but will include examples like the following: Fresh water is used for drinking, bathing, flushing toilets, and irritating. Freshwater is also used in electricity production and manufacturing.)

 

2. Discuss the role of uncertainty in the scientific process.

Tell students that science is a process of learning how the world works and that scientists do not know the “right” answers when they start to investigate a question. We can see examples of scientists' uncertainty in the forecasting of precipitation amounts. Have students go to the NOAA National Weather Service. Ask them to input their zip codes, hit “Go”, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on the “Hourly Weather Graph”. This page shows the hourly weather forecast for your area. The first box shows the predicted temperature and dew point (along with wind chill or heat index, when applicable). The second box shows the predicted wind speed and direction. The third box shows the predicted sky cover (i.e. cloud cover), relative humidity, and chance for precipitation. The boxes below that line show whether the precipitation is likely to be rain, snow, freezing rain, or sleet. Point out the line for precipitation potential (the brown line). Ask:

  • Why is the precipitation shown as a “%”? (Precipitation is dependent on other factors, such as relative humidity and temperature. It is more likely to precipitate when the temperature is the same as or lower than the dew point.) 
  • If there is a likelihood of precipitation, why is the amount of rain/snow shown as ranges? (The amount of precipitation that will fall is dependent on the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. The atmosphere is continually changing, so the amounts are guidelines for what could happen rather than perfect predictions.) 

    *If there is no or low likelihood of precipitation in your area, you may want to find a different location (in the United States) that has a higher likelihood of precipitation. You can look at a current weather map (radar) to find where in the United States precipitation is happening currently. Your students will then be able to see scientists' forecasts of precipitation amounts represented as a range overlaid on the bar graphs.

     

Tell students they will be asked questions about the certainty of their predictions and that they should think about what scientific data are available as they assess their certainty with their answers. Encourage students to discuss the scientific evidence with each other to better assess their level of certainty with their predictions.


3. Introduce the concept of systems in Earth's water resources.

Tell students that forecasting what will happen to Earth's fresh water supplies is a complicated process because there are many different interacting parts. Tell students that scientists think about how one part of the system can affect other parts of the system. Give students a simple example of a system, as described in the scenario below.

 

On an island, there is a population of foxes and a population of rabbits. The foxes prey on the rabbits. Ask: 

  • When there are a lot of rabbits, what will happen to the fox population? (It will increase because there is an ample food supply.) 
  • What happens to the fox population when they’ve eaten most of the rabbits? (The foxes will die of starvation as their food supply decreases.) 
  • What happens to the amount of grass when the fox population is high? (The amount of grass will increase because there are fewer rabbits to eat the grass.)
  • If there is a drought and the grass doesn’t grow well, what will happen to the populations of foxes and rabbits? (The rabbit population will decrease because they have a lesser food supply. The fox population should also decrease as their food supply decreases.)

 

Humans introduce dogs to the island. The dogs compete with the foxes over the rabbit food supply. Ask: What will happen to the populations of foxes, rabbits, and grass after the dogs are introduced? (The foxes will decrease because they are sharing their food supply, the rabbits will decrease because they have more predators, and the grass will do well because of the lowered impact of the smaller rabbit population.)

 

Tell students that simple cause-effect relationships can expand into more complex system relationships. Let students know that they will be exploring the relationship between how sediments and rock types affect groundwater movement. Encourage students to think about how human actions play a role in changes in the flow of water and in freshwater availability.


4. Have students launch the Using Fresh Water interactive.

Provide students with the link to the Using Fresh Water interactive. Divide students into groups of two or three, with two being the ideal grouping to allow groups to share a computer workstation. Tell students that they will be working through a series of pages of data with questions related to the data. Ask students to work through the activity in their groups, discussing and responding to questions as they go.

 

NOTE: You can access the Answer Key for students' questions—and save students' data for online grading—through a free registration on the High-Adventure Science portal page.

 

Tell students that this is Activity 3 of the Will There Be Enough Fresh Water? lesson.


5. Discuss the issues.

After students have completed the activity, bring the groups back together and lead a discussion focusing on these questions:

  • Even if you live in an area where fresh water is plentiful, why do you have to be concerned about the freshwater supply? (You should still be concerned about the freshwater supply because it can be contaminated by human actions. This would make the fresh water useless even if there was a lot of it.) 
  • Are the benefits of dams worth the costs of dams? (Answers will vary. Some of the benefits of dams are flood control, recreation, and electricity production. Some of the costs of dams are habitat disruption, sediment depletion of river deltas, and loss of surrounding land.) 
  • What are some ways that humans have affected the quantity and quality of water supplies around the world? (Humans have changed the surface, which has allowed less water to infiltrate the surface. They have pulled water out of very deep aquifers in desert areas. They have inadvertently contaminated some water supplies.)

Informal Assessment

1.  Check students' comprehension by asking them the following questions:

  • How are freshwater resources distributed on Earth?
  • What are some direct and indirect uses of water?

 2. Use the answer key to check students' answer on embedded assessments.

45 mins
Water Accumulation. Concord Consortium.

Students explore how porosity and permeability of different sediments affect the way water flows through Earth's layers. Students use interactive computational models to explore the underground flow and deposition of water and determine the best places to access the water in a sustainable manner.

DIRECTIONS

1. Spark student discussion about how water moves.

Show the Model 2: Sediment Columns. Run the model, and let students observe how the water molecules move through the different sediments. Ask:

  • Why do you think water pools at the top of the black column while it flows through the pink column? (Students might respond that the material of the black column has fewer holes through which the water can flow. The material in the pink column might be more loosely packed than the material in the black column. The spaces allow the water to flow down. If there are no spaces, then the water can't flow down as easily (or at all).)
  • What would happen if the water level reached the top of the black basin? (If the water level reached the top of the black basin, it would spill over into the next column.)

Tell students that they will be investigating the characteristics of different rocks and sediments that let water flow through at different rates.

 

2. Discuss the role of uncertainty in the scientific process.

Tell students that science is a process of learning how the world works and that scientists do not know the “right” answers when they start to investigate a question. We can see examples of scientists' uncertainty in the forecasting of precipitation amounts. Have students go to NOAA National Weather Service. Ask them to input their zip codes, hit “Go”, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on the “Hourly Weather Graph”. This page shows the hourly weather forecast for your area. The first box shows the predicted temperature and dew point (along with wind chill or heat index, when applicable). The second box shows the predicted wind speed and direction. The third box shows the predicted sky cover (i.e. cloud cover), relative humidity, and chance for precipitation. The boxes below that line show whether the precipitation is likely to be rain, snow, freezing rain, or sleet. Point out the line for precipitation potential (the brown line). Ask:

  • Why is the precipitation shown as a “%”? (Precipitation is dependent on other factors, such as relative humidity and temperature. It is more likely to precipitate when the temperature is the same as or lower than the dew point.)
  • If there is a likelihood of precipitation, why is the amount of rain/snow shown as ranges? (The amount of precipitation that will fall is dependent on the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. The atmosphere is continually changing, so the amounts are guidelines for what could happen rather than perfect predictions.) 

    *If there is no or low likelihood of precipitation in your area, you may want to find a different location (in the United States) that has a higher likelihood of precipitation. You can look at a current weather map (radar) to find where in the United States precipitation is happening currently. Your students will then be able to see scientists' forecasts of precipitation amounts represented as a range overlaid on the bar graphs.

Tell students they will be asked questions about the certainty of their predictions and that they should think about what scientific data are available as they assess their certainty about their answer. Encourage students to discuss the scientific evidence with each other to better assess their level of certainty with their predictions.

 

3. Introduce the concept of systems in Earth's water resources.

Tell students that forecasting what will happen to Earth's fresh water supplies is a complicated process because there are many different interacting parts. Tell students that scientists think about how one part of the system can affect other parts of the system. Give students a simple example of a system, as described in the scenario below.

 

On an island, there is a population of foxes and a population of rabbits. The foxes prey on the rabbits. Ask:  

  • When there are a lot of rabbits, what will happen to the fox population? (It will increase because there is an ample food supply.) 
  • What happens to the fox population when they’ve eaten most of the rabbits? (The foxes will die of starvation as their food supply decreases.) 
  • What happens to the amount of grass when the fox population is high? (The amount of grass will increase because there are fewer rabbits to eat the grass.)
  • If there is a drought and the grass doesn’t grow well, what will happen to the populations of foxes and rabbits? (The rabbit population will decrease because they have a lesser food supply. The fox population should also decrease as their food supply decreases.)

 

Humans introduce dogs to the island. The dogs compete with the foxes over the rabbit food supply. Ask: What will happen to the populations of foxes, rabbits, and grass after the dogs are introduced? (The foxes will decrease because they are sharing their food supply, the rabbits will decrease because they have more predators, and the grass will do well because of the lowered impact of the smaller rabbit population.)

 

Tell students that simple cause-effect relationships can expand into more complex system relationships. Let students know that they will be exploring the relationship between how sediments and rock types affect groundwater movement. Encourage students to think about how human actions play a role in changes in the flow of water and in freshwater availability.


4.    Introduce and discuss the use of computational models.

Introduce the concept of computational models, and give students an example of a computational model that they may have seen, such as forecasting the weather. The weather forecast provides a good example of how model input is used to predict future conditions. Go to NOAA Weather Forecast Model. Tell students that scientists used current information about the energy and moisture in the atmosphere as an input to the model and that what they see on the weather map is the output of the model's calculations.

 

5. Have students launch the Groundwater Movement interactive

Provide students with the link to the Exploring Groundwater Movement interactive. Divide students into groups of two or three, with two being the ideal grouping for sharing computer workstations. Inform students they will be working through a series of pages of models with questions related to the models. Ask students to work through the activity in their groups, discussing and responding to questions as they go.

 

NOTE: You can access the Answer Key for students' questions—and save students' data for online grading—through a free registration on the High-Adventure Science portal page.

 

Let students know that this is Activity 4 of the Will There Be Enough Fresh Water? lesson.


6. Discuss the issues.

After students have completed the activity, bring the groups back together and lead a discussion focusing on these questions:

  • How can water move through rocks that look solid? (Water moves through very small spaces. The rock can look solid even when it has many tiny spaces through which water can move.)
  • How does the shape and size of pore spaces affect the permeability of different sediments? (More porous sediments have larger particles with large spaces between them. Sediments with smaller particles are less permeable because the particles pack closer together, leaving less space for water to move through.)
  • If a rock/sediment is porous, does that mean it is also permeable? (A rock/sediment can be porous without being permeable. If the spaces do not connect to each other, water cannot move through the rock/sediment.)
  • What kind of rocks/sediments make a good aquifer? (Rocks/Sediments that are very permeable make a good aquifer. This is because they allow the quick flow of water, which means that you can get a good flow from the well as well as quick recharge from precipitation, assuming that the aquifer is unconfined.

Informal Assessment

1. Check students' comprehension by asking the following questions:

  • How can water move through rocks that look solid?
  • Why does sand have such a high flow rate compared to clay?
  • If a rock is porous, does that mean it is also permeable?
  • Is it better to use a confined aquifer or an unconfined aquifer for a water supply?

2. Use the answer key to check students' answers on embedded questions.

45 mins
Groundwater and Surface Water. Concord Consortium.

Students use interactive computational models to explore the underground flow of water and how it affects surface bodies of water. They predict how the water table will be affected by the placement of wells around a gaining stream. Finally, they explore the reasons the river dried up in a case study of the Santa Cruz River in Arizona.

DIRECTIONS

1. Engage students in thinking about how water moves through sediments.

Tell students that much of their water comes from groundwater and that water moves from the ground to the surface. Ask:

  • Why does water move through gravel more quickly than it moves through clay? (Gravel is more permeable than clay.)
  • Would it be easier to get water out of sand or out of gravel? (It would be easier to get water out of gravel because the pore spaces are larger. The water will move more quickly through larger pore spaces.)

 

2. Discuss the role of uncertainty in the scientific process.

Tell students that science is a process of learning how the world works and that scientists do not know the “right” answers when they start to investigate a question. We can see examples of scientists' uncertainty in the forecasting of precipitation amounts. Have students go to NOAA National Weather Service. Ask them to input their zip codes, hit “Go”, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on the “Hourly Weather Graph”. This page shows the hourly weather forecast for your area. The first box shows the predicted temperature and dew point (along with wind chill or heat index, when applicable). The second box shows the predicted wind speed and direction. The third box shows the predicted sky cover (i.e. cloud cover), relative humidity, and chance for precipitation. The boxes below that line show whether the precipitation is likely to be rain, snow, freezing rain, or sleet. Point out the line for precipitation potential (the brown line). Ask:

  • Why is the precipitation shown as a “%”? (Precipitation is dependent on other factors, such as relative humidity and temperature. It is more likely to precipitate when the temperature is the same as or lower than the dew point.)
  • If there is a likelihood of precipitation, why is the amount of rain/snow shown as ranges? (The amount of precipitation that will fall is dependent on the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. The atmosphere is continually changing, so the amounts are guidelines for what could happen rather than perfect predictions.) 

    *If there is no or low likelihood of precipitation in your area, you may want to find a different location (in the United States) that has a higher likelihood of precipitation. You can look at a current weather map (radar) to find where in the United States precipitation is happening currently. Your students will then be able to see scientists' forecasts of precipitation amounts represented as a range overlaid on the bar graphs.

 

Tell students they will be asked questions about the certainty of their predictions and that they should think about what scientific data are available as they assess their certainty with their answers. Encourage students to discuss the scientific evidence with each other to better assess their level of certainty with their predictions.


3. Introduce the concept of systems in Earth's water resources.

Tell students that forecasting what will happen to Earth's fresh water supplies is a complicated process because there are many different interacting parts. Tell students that scientists think about how one part of the system can affect other parts of the system. Give students a simple example of a system, as described in the scenario below.

 

On an island, there is a population of foxes and a population of rabbits. The foxes prey on the rabbits. Ask: 

  • When there are a lot of rabbits, what will happen to the fox population? (It will increase because there is an ample food supply.) 
  • What happens to the fox population when they’ve eaten most of the rabbits? (The foxes will die of starvation as their food supply decreases.) 
  • What happens to the amount of grass when the fox population is high? (The amount of grass will increase because there are fewer rabbits to eat the grass.)
  • If there is a drought and the grass doesn’t grow well, what will happen to the populations of foxes and rabbits? (The rabbit population will decrease because they have a lesser food supply. The fox population should also decrease as their food supply decreases.)

Humans introduce dogs to the island. The dogs compete with the foxes over the rabbit food supply. Ask: What will happen to the populations of foxes, rabbits, and grass after the dogs are introduced? (The foxes will decrease because they are sharing their food supply, the rabbits will decrease because they have more predators, and the grass will do well because of the lowered impact of the smaller rabbit population.)

 

Tell students that simple cause-effect relationships can expand into more complex system relationships. Let students know that they will be exploring the relationship between how sediments and rock types affect groundwater movement. Encourage students to think about how human actions play a role in changes in the flow of water and in freshwater availability.

 

4. Introduce and discuss the use of computational models.

Introduce the concept of computational models, and give students an example of a computational model that they may have seen, such as forecasting the weather. The weather forecast provides a good example of how model input is used to predict future conditions. Go to NOAA Weather Forecast Model. Tell students that scientists used current information about the energy and moisture in the atmosphere as an input to the model and that what they see on the weather map is the output of the model's calculations.


5. Have students launch the Groundwater and Surface Water interactive.

Provide students with the link to the Groundwater and Surface Water interactive. Divide students into groups of two or three, with two being the ideal grouping for sharing computer workstations. Inform students they will be working through a series of pages of models with questions related to the models. Ask students to work through the activity in their groups, discussing and responding to questions as they go.

 

NOTE: You can access the Answer Key for students' questions—and save students' data for online grading—through a free registration on the High-Adventure Science portal page.

 

Let students know that this is Activity 5 of the Will There Be Enough Fresh Water? lesson.


6. Discuss the issues.

After students have completed the activity, bring the groups back together and lead a discussion focusing on these questions:

  • How does the water table affect the relative amount of water in surface bodies and underground? (When the water table is high, meaning the soil is saturated, water will move [or stay] above ground and surface bodies of water will expand. When the water table is low, water will move from the surface down toward the ground.)
  • What are the effects on a stream of removing too much water from the ground? (If too much water is removed from the ground, the stream can dry up. The water table can be lowered below the level of the stream.)
  • How can humans better manage their use of limited water supplies? (Humans can conserve water. They can use the wastewater to recharge the water supplies.)
  • Are rivers an endless supply of fresh water? (Rivers are not an endless supply of fresh water. They can be run dry if the water table goes too low. This can happen when people withdraw too much water from the river and/or from the groundwater that supplies the river. Even though the rivers still receive precipitation, they can be depleted if the water table isn't high enough.)

Informal Assessment

1. Check students' comprehension by asking students the following questions:

  • How does water move between groundwater and surface water when the water table is high?
  • What can humans do to keep water flowing in streams?

2. Use the answer key to check students' answers on embedded assessments.

45 mins
The Urban Water Cycle. Auckland Council.

Students use interactive computational models to explore the relationship between infiltration and recharge in natural and urbanized areas. They investigate how human development has changed the natural flow of water. Students explore the transfer of water from one aquifer to another and propose solutions to allow for water extracted from wells to recharge the aquifers from which they came.

DIRECTIONS

1. Engage students in thinking about how water cycles through the ground.

Tell students that much of their water comes from groundwater and that water moves from the ground to the surface. Show the Urban Water Cycle diagram. Ask:

  • When precipitation falls, how does it move into and through the ground? (When precipitation falls on the ground, it can run down the surface (runoff) or it can move into the ground. Water moves through the ground because sediments are permeable. If the sediments are very permeable, the water can penetrate deep into the ground, but if they are less permeable, the water will not be able to flow very deep into the ground.)
  • What effects have humans had on the natural movement of water? (Humans have made a lot of the surface impermeable with buildings and pavement. The water cannot easily enter the ground through paved surfaces because they are impermeable.)


2. Discuss the role of uncertainty in the scientific process.

Tell students that science is a process of learning how the world works and that scientists do not know the “right” answers when they start to investigate a question. We can see examples of scientists' uncertainty in the forecasting of precipitation amounts. Have students go to the NOAA National Weather Service. Ask them to input their zip codes, hit “Go”, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on the “Hourly Weather Graph”. This page shows the hourly weather forecast for your area. The first box shows the predicted temperature and dew point (along with wind chill or heat index, when applicable). The second box shows the predicted wind speed and direction. The third box shows the predicted sky cover (i.e. cloud cover), relative humidity, and chance for precipitation. The boxes below that line show whether the precipitation is likely to be rain, snow, freezing rain, or sleet. Point out the line for precipitation potential (the brown line). Ask:

  • Why is the precipitation shown as a “%”? (Precipitation is dependent on other factors, such as relative humidity and temperature. It is more likely to precipitate when the temperature is the same as or lower than the dew point.)
  • If there is a likelihood of precipitation, why is the amount of rain/snow shown as ranges? (The amount of precipitation that will fall is dependent on the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. The atmosphere is continually changing, so the amounts are guidelines for what could happen rather than perfect predictions.) 

*If there is no or low likelihood of precipitation in your area, you may want to find a different location (in the United States) that has a higher likelihood of precipitation. You can look at a current weather map (radar) to find where in the United States precipitation is happening currently. Your students will then be able to see scientists' forecasts of precipitation amounts represented as a range overlaid on the bar graphs.


 

Tell students they will be asked questions about the certainty of their predictions and that they should think about what scientific data are available as they assess their certainty with their answers. Encourage students to discuss the scientific evidence with each other to better assess their level of certainty with their predictions.

 

 

3. Introduce the concept of systems in Earth's water resources.

Tell students that forecasting what will happen to Earth's fresh water supplies is a complicated process because there are many different interacting parts. Tell students that scientists think about how one part of the system can affect other parts of the system. Give students a simple example of a system, as described in the scenario below.

 

On an island, there is a population of foxes and a population of rabbits. The foxes prey on the rabbits. Ask: 

  • When there are a lot of rabbits, what will happen to the fox population? (It will increase because there is an ample food supply.) 
  • What happens to the fox population when they’ve eaten most of the rabbits? (The foxes will die of starvation as their food supply decreases.) 
  • What happens to the amount of grass when the fox population is high? (The amount of grass will increase because there are fewer rabbits to eat the grass.)
  • If there is a drought and the grass doesn’t grow well, what will happen to the populations of foxes and rabbits? (The rabbit population will decrease because they have a lesser food supply. The fox population should also decrease as their food supply decreases.)

Humans introduce dogs to the island. The dogs compete with the foxes over the rabbit food supply. Ask: What will happen to the populations of foxes, rabbits, and grass after the dogs are introduced? (The foxes will decrease because they are sharing their food supply, the rabbits will decrease because they have more predators, and the grass will do well because of the lowered impact of the smaller rabbit population.)

 

Tell students that simple cause-effect relationships can expand into more complex system relationships. Let students know that they will be exploring the relationship between how sediments and rock types affect groundwater movement. Encourage students to think about how human actions play a role in changes in the flow of water and in freshwater availability.


4. Introduce and discuss the use of computational models.

Introduce the concept of computational models, and give students an example of a computational model that they may have seen, such as forecasting the weather. The weather forecast provides a good example of how model input is used to predict future conditions. Go to the NOAA Weather Forecast Model. Tell students that scientists used current information about the energy and moisture in the atmosphere as an input to the model and that what they see on the weather map is the output of the model's calculations.

 

5. Have students launch the Using Groundwater Wisely interactive.

Provide students with the link to the Using Groundwater Wisely interactive. Divide students into groups of two or three, with two being the ideal grouping for sharing computer workstations. Inform students they will be working through a series of pages of models with questions related to the models. Ask students to work through the activity in their groups, discussing and responding to questions as they go.

 

NOTE: You can access the Answer Key for students' questions—and save students' data for online grading—through a free registration on the High-Adventure Science portal page.

 

Let students know that this is Activity 6 of the Will There Be Enough Fresh Water? lesson.

 

6. Discuss the issues.

After students have completed the activity, bring the groups back together and lead a discussion focusing on these questions:

  • What happens to rainwater when it rains in a city? (The rain runs off impermeable surfaces into basins or rivers.)
  • How does that differ from when it rains in a non-urban area? (In a non-urban area, the water can penetrate the ground because it is not covered by impermeable surfaces. The water in non-urban areas can recharge aquifers.)
  • How can humans better manage their use of limited water supplies? (Humans can use water sparingly for necessary purposes. They can use the wastewater to recharge aquifers so that the wells don't run dry.)

Informal Assessment

1. Check students' comprehension by asking them to respond to the following question.

  • Which area's aquifer is more likely to be recharged by precipitation: an urban area or a rural area? Explain your answer.

 2. Use the answer key to check students' answers on embedded assessments.

Subjects & Disciplines

  • Earth Science

Objectives

Students will:

  • describe how human developments have changed the natural water cycle
  • describe how wastewater can be used to recharge an aquifer
  • explain the difference between porosity and permeability within the context of water movement
  • explain how the permeability of a sediment affects water movement
  • predict where water will accumulate based on topography and permeability
  • predict the location of aquifers based on a given topography
  • predict what types of rocks/sediments will form aquifers
  • create a good scientific argument in the context of freshwater availability
  • describe the locations of fresh water on Earth
  • explain why fresh water is considered a renewable resource
  • describe how humans have affected freshwater supplies on Earth
  • describe the relationship between freshwater distribution and populations
  • list direct and indirect uses of fresh water
  • describe some of the costs and benefits of putting dams on rivers and streams
  • describe how water moves between the ground and surface water bodies depending on the level of the water table
  • describe the effects on a stream of withdrawing too much water

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Discussions
  • Multimedia instruction
  • Self-directed learning
  • Self-paced learning
  • Visual instruction
  • Writing

Skills Summary

This lesson targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Science Education Standards (5-8) Standard A-1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (5-8) Standard A-2: Understandings about scientific inquiry (5-8) Standard B-1: Properties and changes of properties in matter (5-8) Standard D-1: Structure of the earth system (5-8) Standard E-2: Understandings about science and technology (5-8) Standard G-1: Science as a human endeavor (5-8) Standard G-2: Nature of science (9-12) Standard A-1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (9-12) Standard A-2: Understandings about scientific inquiry (9-12) Standard B-2: Structure and properties of matter (9-12) Standard B-6: Interactions of energy and matter (9-12) Standard D-1: Energy in the earth system (9-12) Standard E-2: Understandings about science and technology (9-12) Standard F-4: Environmental quality (9-12) Standard F-6: Science and technology in local, national, and global challenges (9-12) Standard G-1: Science as a human endeavor (9-12) Standard G-2: Nature of scientific knowledgeCommon Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6-12: Key Ideas and Details, RST.9-10.3 Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6-12: Key Ideas and Details, RST.6-8.1 Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6-12: Key Ideas and Details, RST.6-8.3 Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6-12: Craft and Structure, RST.6-8.4 Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6-12: Key Ideas and Details, RST.9-10.1 Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6-12: Craft and Structure, RST.9-10.4 Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6-12: Key Ideas and Details, RST.11-12.1 Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6-12: Key Ideas and Details, RST.11-12.3 Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6-12: Craft and Structure, RST.11-12.4ISTE Standards for Students (ISTE Standards*S) Standard 3: Research and Information Fluency Standard 4: Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making Next Generation Science Standards Crosscutting Concept 1: Patterns Crosscutting Concept 2: Cause and effect: Mechanism and prediction Crosscutting Concept 3: Scale, proportion, and quantity Crosscutting Concept 4: Systems and system models Crosscutting Concept 5: Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation Crosscutting Concept 6: Structure and function Crosscutting Concept 7: Stability and change Science and Engineering Practice 1: Asking questions and defining problems Science and Engineering Practice 2: Developing and using models Science and Engineering Practice 3: Planning and carrying out investigations Science and Engineering Practice 4: Analyzing and interpreting data Science and Engineering Practice 5: Using mathematics and computational thinking Science and Engineering Practice 6: Constructing explanations and designing solutions Science and Engineering Practice 7: Engaging in argument from evidence Science and Engineering Practice 8: Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

What You’ll Need

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Internet access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per learner, 1 computer per pair, 1 computer per small group, Interactive whiteboard, Projector

Physical Space

  • Classroom
  • Computer lab
  • Media Center/Library

Setup

  • None

Grouping

  • Heterogeneous grouping
  • Homogeneous grouping
  • Large-group instruction
  • Small-group instruction

Accessibility Notes

  • None

Background Information

Prior Knowledge

  • None

Recommended Prior Lessons

  • None

Vocabulary

Noun

the art and science of cultivating the land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching).

Noun

an underground layer of rock or earth which holds groundwater.

Noun

solid rock beneath the Earth's soil and sand.

claim
Verb

to state as the truth.

clay
Noun

type of sedimentary rock that is able to be shaped when wet.

Noun

process by which water vapor becomes liquid.

confined aquifer
Noun

layer of water-bearing rock between two layers of less permeable rock.

Noun

management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

dam
Noun

structure built across a river or other waterway to control the flow of water.

discharge
Verb

to eject or get rid of.

dissolve
Verb

to break up or disintegrate.

Noun

process by which liquid water becomes water vapor.

evidence
Noun

data that can be measured, observed, examined, and analyzed to support a conclusion.

freshwater
Adjective

having to do with a habitat or ecosystem of a lake, river, or spring.

freshwater
Noun

water that is not salty.

gravel
Noun

small stones or pebbles.

Noun

water found in an aquifer.

model, computational
Noun

a mathematical model that requires extensive computational resources to study the behavior of a complex system by computer simulation.

municipal
Adjective

having to do with local government.

per capita
Adjective

for each individual.

permeable
Adjective

allowing liquid and gases to pass through.

population density
Noun

the number of people living in a set area, such as a square mile.

pore
Noun

tiny opening.

porosity
Noun

the ratio of the volume of all the pores, or holes, in an object and the object's total mass.

porous
Adjective

full of tiny holes, or able to be permeated by water.

Noun

all forms in which water falls to Earth from the atmosphere.

pumice
Noun

type of igneous rock with many pores.

recharge
Verb

to renew or restore to a previous condition.

Noun

natural or man-made lake.

Noun

overflow of fluid from a farm or industrial factory.

salinity
Noun

saltiness.

sand
Noun

small, loose grains of disintegrated rocks.

Noun

small sediment particles.

Noun

body of flowing water.

Noun

use of resources in such a manner that they will never be exhausted.

system
Noun

collection of items or organisms that are linked and related, functioning as a whole.

systems-understanding
Noun

process of comprehending and communicating complex, related sets of information and interactions.

topography
Noun

the shape of the surface features of an area.

transpiration
Noun

evaporation of water from plants.

unconfined aquifer
Noun

layer of water-bearing rock covered by permeable rock.

Noun

process in which there is an increase in the number of people living and working in a city or metropolitan area.

Noun

movement of water between atmosphere, land, and ocean.

water infiltration
Noun

process by which water on the ground surface or atmosphere enters the soil.

Noun

underground area where the Earth's surface is saturated with water. Also called water level.

Partner

Funder