Going with the Flow – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Going with the Flow

Fifth-graders simulate the water cycle and analyze molecule movement at the Finger Lakes Institute
(March 22, 2005) GENEVA, N.Y.—A primary goal of the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is to develop innovative curricular material, resources and educational opportunities for K-12 students and teachers. To this end, 24 students from Maria Reale’s fifth-grade class at St. Stephens School, in Geneva, visited the Finger Lakes Institute on March 4 for a lesson on the water cycle.

Community Outreach Coordinator Sarah Meyer organized the interactive activity for the students to simulate travel within the water cycle as water molecules. The lesson, taken from the Project WET Curriculum Guide, demonstrated the movement and physical state (solid, liquid, gas) of water within the water cycle.

Reale’s class tracked the travel and analyzed the movement. Results concluded that the most dramatic movement of water molecules occurs in the gaseous state to clouds via evaporation and condensation. Among living organisms–plants, animals and humans–the greatest movers of water are plants via absorption from the soil and transpiration to the atmosphere.

The water cycle is the process of circulation of water within the atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere and geosphere of Earth. The cycle is variable, allowing water to move as a solid, liquid, and gas through many movers of water, such as plants, animals, glaciers, groundwater, soil, rivers, lakes, ocean, and clouds. Processes making that movement possible (condensation, evaporation, transpiration, and precipitation) depend on the sun, electromagnetic energy, and gravity to occur.

The Finger Lakes Institute encourages experiential learning and role-playing through activities such as this. Teachers interested in incorporating the Finger Lakes Institute and environmental education into their area of study should contact the Finger Lakes Institute at (315) 781-4390 or e-mail fli@hws.edu.