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Subject knowledge: The Water Cycle

In the previous step we looked at the chemistry behind the different states of matter. A really successful way to illustrate certain states of matter is to allow children to study the water cycle. In its simplest form it contains water in two states. You are able to extend it to include freezing depending on where you set your cycle, however the water cycle does not rely on freezing so it is not part of the ‘cycle’.

Blank water cycle. Sun, sea and clouds near high ground. Arrows connect each, going from sun to clouds, to sea, to sun.


In this task the words and definitions of the water cycle have been removed. Can you replace them and explain what is going on at these stages in the cycle? Use the knowledge from the previous step to help you.

Another word that is introduced when looking at the water cycle is precipitation. This is the product of condensed water (water vapour cooling and turning to liquid form) forming clouds. When these clouds become too heavy to be supported in the air the condensed liquid water falls as rain, sleet or snow, depending on the temperature.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching Primary Science: Chemistry

National STEM Learning Centre