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Lesson Plans Library 6-12 > Earth Science
Investigating Earth's Waters
Investigating Earth's Waters
Grade level: 6-12 Subject: Earth Science Duration: 7 segments; 66 minutes

lesson plan support

Students will
  • Review sites featured in the video.
  • Illustrate a postcard and write a note from a site.
  • Describe the relationship between humans and Earth's waters.
  1. Review the different sites featured in the video. Briefly describe each one and why it is significant.
    • Everglades National Park
    • Three Gorges Dam
    • Hoover Dam
    • Roaring 40s
    • Mariana Trench
  2. Next, ask students to imagine they are visiting one of these places. What would they see? What are the conditions there? Distribute large index cards and colored pencils or markers to each student. Explain that they are going to illustrate a postcard with an image on one side and a brief description on the other. The image can show any scene from their visit. The description should answer the following questions:
    • What is the name and location of your visit?
    • What are your role and the purpose of your visit? (Examples of roles might include engineer, tourist, biologist, scientist, or sailor.)
    • How would you describe the place? (sights and sounds, plants and animals , and any significant structures)
    • What does this place reveal about Earth's waters?
  3. Provide appropriate print and online materials for students to learn more about their selected location.
  4. Have students form groups with students who covered the same location and read each other's completed postcards.
  5. Next, have students form groups with others who covered different places and have them read each other's postcards.
  6. End the lesson with a discussion about the relationship between humans and Earth's waters. What effect do these places have on people? What effect do people have on Earth's waters? Why is it important to understand Earth's waters?

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points: Students were active in class discussions; wrote a thorough, engaging postcard, answering all the questions; included a clear illustration of the location.
  • Two points: Students participated in class discussions; wrote a satisfactory postcard, answering most the questions; included a satisfactory illustration of the location.
  • One point: Students did not participate in class discussions; wrote an incomplete or unclear postcard, answering few or none of the questions; illustration was missing or incomplete.

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Definition: The emission of light from living organisms as the result of internal chemical changes
Context:: Bioluminescence is an adaptation that allows fish to trick or attract prey.

Definition: Large parts of water that move continuously through the ocean over long distances
Context:: Currents circulate warm water away from the equator, affecting global climate.

Definition: A water passage as a river nears the sea, where freshwater and salt water mix
Context:: Mangrove forests thrive in the estuary.

food web
Definition: A system to illustrate how plants and animals in a habitat depend on each other
Context:: Tiny organisms called phytoplankton form the basis of the marine food web.

Definition: The natural environment of a plant or animal
Context:: Development and pollution are affecting the habitat of the Everglades

Definition: Relating to the production of electricity by converting the pressure of moving water
Context:: The Three Gorges Dam will produce hydroelectric power for China.

Definition: An artificial or natural lake where water is collected and stored
Context:: The dam holds back water, creating a large reservoir.

Definition: A vehicle designed to descend and travel far below the ocean surface
Context:: By exploring the deep sea in submersibles, researchers are learning about the diversity of underwater life.

Definition: The alternate rising and falling of the surface of the ocean that occurs twice a day
Context:: Tides are the response of gravitational pull of the moon and the sun.

Definition: A ridge or swell on the surface of a liquid that normally moves in a forward motion
Context:: Most ocean waves form when wind blows across the water's surface, transferring the wind's energy to the water.

Definition: A lowland area, such as a marsh or swamp, saturated with moisture
Context:: Crocodiles live in the Everglades wetlands.

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Academic Standards
National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences provides guidelines for teaching science in grades K-12 to promote scientific literacy. To view the standards, visit this Web site:

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • Earth and Space Science
  • Science as Inquiry
  • Science and Technology

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit:

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • Science ? Earth and Space Sciences: Understands atmospheric processes and the water cycle, Understands Earth's composition and structure; Nature of Science: Understands the nature of scientific inquiry
  • Language Arts ? Viewing: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

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