The water cycle is an amazing process that we started to talk about when discussing evaporation a couple of weeks ago.
Today we will have a go at creating our own mini water cycle model.
What is the water cycle?
Water on Earth is recycled over and over again; it’s always moving. It is this recycling process that we call the water cycle.
1. Evaporation – water evaporates into the air
The sun heats water on land, rivers, lakes and seas and turns it into water vapour.
The water vapour rises into the air.
2. Condensation – water vapour condenses into clouds
As water vapour in the air cools down, it turns back into tiny drops of water. These tiny drops of water form clouds.
3. Precipitation – water falls as rain
As the amount of water vapour in the clouds increases, the clouds get heavier and heavier. Water falls back to the ground as rain, sleet, or snow if it’s cold enough.
4. Water returns to the sea
As rainwater runs over the land back to rivers and the sea, some is taken up by and used by plants, and some returns to the air through transpiration. Most rainwater collects in lakes or rivers and flows back to the sea for the water cycle to start again.
The arrow from the sea to the sun – evaporation
The arrow from the sun to the clouds – condensation
The arrow from the Clouds to the mountains – precipitation
Make a water cycle model
A plastic bowl (mixing bowl size)
How to make a water cycle model
It is best to do this outside in a sunny place.
1. Place the mug in the bottom of the bowl
2. Add water around the mug so that it comes up to ⅔rd of the mug – if you can draw on the bowl, mark where the water level is.
3. Cover the bowl tightly in clingfilm and fasten it in place with the string.
4. Watch what happens!
How does the water cycle model work?
You should find that you can see condensation drops of water on the top of the cling film and that the water level has lowered, proving that evaporation has taken place. The condensation droplets are the clouds. They will be dripping back into the bowl, but you should find some water in the cup (your mountains), demonstrating precipitation!
More Water Cycle Activities
Can you make a water cycle in a bag? Draw the sun and a cloud on a bag. Add some water and stick it to the inside of a sunny window. Watch as the water evaporates and condenses inside the bag!
Water Cycle Worksheet
Print the water cycle diagram below, cut out the squares and stick them in the correct place!
Did you know you can measure rainfall with a simple rain gauge?
Don’t forget to try my other weather science experiments too!
Last Updated on January 26, 2023 by Emma Vanstone