Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Life Science: EcoColumn

When It Rains...

It could be argued that the substance that is most important to the support of life is water. One of the reactants in photosynthesis — the chemical reaction that brings energy into the living world — is water. And, most cell processes must take place in the presence of water. Yet life relies on the physical environment for its water supply. Why doesn’t this water supply run out?

Along with other material cycles, the water cycle is essential to life on Earth. In “When It Rains…” you’ll use your EcoColumn to model the water cycle.

Materials Needed


  1. Remove the top unit of your EcoColumn and tie the string around the neck so that one end hangs freely.
  2. Invert the top of your EcoColumn over the terrestrial habitat.
  3. Add water with ice in it.
  4. Observe what happens over several hours.

Activity Questions

Water Cycle Concepts:

Evaporation — the change of state of water from a liquid to a gas (water vapor)
Transpiration — the evaporation of water from the surfaces of leaves
Condensation — the change of state of water from a water vapor to a liquid
Precipitation — water that falls in the form of rain, sleet, hail, or snow
Percolation — the flow of water through a substrate (e.g., soil)
Surface water — still or flowing water on the surface of the Earth
Ground water — still or flowing water in the ground

  1. How is each habitat in your EcoColumn supplied with water?
  2. Within each habitat, how do organisms obtain their water?
  3. How would these habitats and organisms be supplied with water in nature?
  4. Does surface water exist in your EcoColumn? Ground water? Explain your answer.
  5. What happened when you added ice to the inverted top of your EcoColumn?
  6. Which of the above concepts was illustrated by the addition of the ice?
  7. Make a diagram of your EcoColumn and use the water cycle concepts to label your drawing.


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