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EDC: Earth Science, Revised

EDC: Hydrosphere - Water in Earth’s Systems, Revised | Unit 1

EDC: Hydrosphere - Water in Earth’s Systems, Revised | Unit 1

7-9 weeks


Chapter 1 Comparing Earth to Other Worlds

Students read an excerpt from a science fiction story about Mars colonists and analyze the resources and technolgies necessary to sustain human populations on this neighboring planet.


Chapter 2 Life’s Blood: Seeking Water from the Earth

Students learn about a community in Tennessee that ran out of water, and consider how access to plentiful and clean water is critical to human survival. They build their knowledge about how water is obtained by reviewing the water cycle and learning the science behind surface and groundwater supplies. After researching case studies from communities around the world, they get up close and personal, evaluating where their water comes from and whether their supply could be threatened in the future.

Chapter 3 Rivers of the Sea: Ocean Currents

Students read a true story about Thor Heyerdahl, the explorer who set sail across the Pacific in the primitive raft Kon-Tiki to prove a theory. By setting adrift on an ocean current, he sought to show that people from South America could have migrated to Polynesia over 1000 years ago without the benefit of modern engines. Students gather knowledge about the science of ocean currents to decide whether his idea was crazy or had a chance of success.

Content in EDC: Hydrosphere - Water in Earth’s Systems, Revised | Unit 1 is organized into activities, as follows:

Activity Title Activity Overview
What’s the Story? . Two Travelers in a Distant World Students read an excerpt from the science fiction book Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, in which two colonists explore the surface of Mars in a dirigible.
Activity. Survival on Earth and Mars Students consult cards containing data about the conditions on Earth and Mars. They then develop a list of the basic requirements for human habitation of a planet and develop a list of the top five survival challenges a Mars colony would face.
What’s the Story? . Water Running Dry Students read a story about a community in Tennessee that ran out of water. They think about the factors that could strain water supplies and about what they would do if they had difficulty obtaining water.
Task 1. How Much Water Do You Use? Students estimate their personal daily water use. They think about why people in the United States typically use more water than people in other parts of the world.
Task 2. Thinking Beyond the Bathwater: Your Water Footprint Students think about the ways they indirectly consume water that is used to grow their food and produce products that they use. They study data about the amount of water involved in manufacturing various products and how water use varies from state to state and from one region of the world to another. They think about how they depend on water being readily available in other parts of the world.
Activity 1. Reservoir Roulette: A Journey Through the Water Cycle Students review pathways that a water molecule can take when cycling through Earth’s systems. They think about the points in the water cycle where humans can access freshwater and about the ways that humans may affect this freshwater supply.
Reading. The Unique Qualities of Water This reading describes the qualities of water that make it unique and essential to human survival.
Activity 2. Where’s the Drinking Water? Part A: Students use models to investigate the principle sources of drinking water within Earth’s systems. They model how surface water collects within watersheds, forming valuable surface water reservoirs, and think about how factors such as the size of a watershed can affect the availability of water. Part B: Students model how groundwater collects in aquifers and is tapped with water wells. They think about the factors that affect the availability of groundwater supplies in a region.
Reading. Capturing the Good Water This reading describes how water is treated and distributed to households.
Activity 3. Water Supply Case Studies Students are assigned individual case studies about community water supplies in China, Japan, Brazil, Cyprus, Canada, Kenya, and Australia. They research and share what they have learned about how these communities obtain their water and the challenges that they face.
Activity 4. Follow the Flow: Researching Your Water Supply Students design and follow a research strategy to learn about their water supply. As well as from Internet and library sources, they get information from local experts and state and federal personnel to determine where their water comes from and potential threats to their local supply.
Address the Challenge. Student Reports Students synthesize their research findings and write a report about their local water supply.
Final Reading. The Most Precious Resource This reading reviews and summarizes key concepts of the chapter.
Career Spotlight. Environmental Quality Engineer
Task. Ocean Quiz Show Students refresh their basic background knowledge of the oceans.
What’s the Story? . A Crazy Idea Students read a true story about Thor Heyerdahl, who planned to try to cross the Pacific on a primitive raft. They think about the forces that might propel his raft, and discuss their initial thoughts about his chances of success.
Activity 1. The Effect of Wind on Ocean Currents Students begin to gather knowledge about the science behind Heyerdahl’s idea by using a model ocean basin to investigate the effect of wind on water movements.
Activity 2. Natural Patterns Students relate their observations of wind-driven currents to patterns of warm and cool surface ocean currents on a world map.
Reading. Patterns in Surface Ocean Currents Students read about the major patterns in the flow of surface ocean currents. They study an image of ocean surface temperatures, identify major currents on the map, and hypothesize about the effect of these currents on the climate of coastal areas.
Activity 3. The Effect of Density on Ocean Currents Students model the effect of variations in density on water movements, and relate their observations to the movement of water in actual ocean currents.
Reading. Striving for Equillibrium: The Forces That Drive Ocean Currents Students gather more information about the forces that drive surface and deep ocean currents, the factors that influence flow directions, and how the Sun provides the energy that drives the global conveyor belt, which connects currents in all of Earth’s oceans in a global circulation.
Address the Challenge. Newspaper Feature Article Students synthesize what they have learned about ocean currents and communicate their understanding by writing a newspaper feature article.
Reading (Extend). The Peru Current Students learn more about the Peru Current and its relationship to one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world. They explore how the flow of this current is disrupted by periodic El Niño events and about the far-reaching effects of associated changes in global atmospheric and ocean circulation.
Activity 4 (Extend). An Influential Current Students research how El Niño events have affected the United States and their local region, and whether an El Niño event is likely to occur in the near future.

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