How Does Water Shape Our World?
To contextualize core ideas about the water and rock cycles at the middle school level, this unit focuses on selected national parks in the United States and the study of features common and unique to each. In groups, students take on the task of collaborating to develop a visitors’ guide that explains how water has shaped the landscape of a single park. To complete this task, students must understand how water moves through the park, what types of rock are present, and how the water and rock have interacted to shape the land. Students learn where water can be found on, above, and below the Earth’s surface. They learn how water moves and is transformed in the water cycle by investigating evaporation, precipitation, infiltration, and flow. Students also explore how rocks are formed and the properties of different types of rock. Finally, they examine the effects of water on the land by investigating weathering, erosion and deposition. To do so, students engage in relevant scientific practices, address crosscutting concepts, and build understanding of energy and the particle nature of matter as both apply in the study of Earth science.