NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1115493
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Oct
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0036-8148
Scientific Models Help Students Understand the Water Cycle
Forbes, Cory; Vo, Tina; Zangori, Laura; Schwarz, Christina
Science and Children, v53 n2 p42-49 Oct 2015
The water cycle is a large, complex system that encompasses ideas across the K-12 science curriculum. By the time students leave fifth grade, they should understand "that a system is a group of related parts that make up a whole and can carry out functions its individual parts cannot" and be able to describe both components and processes of Earth systems (NGSS Lead States 2013, p. 85). However, elementary students often articulate alternative ideas about water systems (Forbes, Zangori, and Schwarz 2015; Dickerson et al. 2007), partly because some elements of the water cycle are hard to observe (e.g., water vapor and groundwater). Scientific modeling is a productive way students can begin to think about Earth systems and to visualize and represent these unseen water-related processes. In this article, the authors discuss the importance of scientific modeling, present a set of reflective questions for students to use to guide their use of models, and describe one unit investigation focused on groundwater to illustrate effective ways to support students' scientific modeling.
National Science Teachers Association. 1840 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201-3000. Tel: 800-722-6782; Fax: 703-243-3924; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A