Role of Sunlight and Gravity in the Water Cycle Science Games
In this series of games, your students will learn about the way the sun’s energy and the earth’s gravity combine to cause the motion of water through the water cycle. The Role of Sunlight and Gravity in the Water Cycle learning objective — based on NGSS and state standards — delivers improved student engagement and academic performance in your classroom, as demonstrated by research.
Scroll down for a preview of this learning objective’s games and the concepts they drive home.
On Earth, water can exist as a liquid, a solid (ice), or a gas (water vapor). It changes between these states of matter when it gains or loses energy. In the water cycle, this energy comes from sunlight.
When water absorbs sunlight or makes contact with something warmer than itself, it heats up. This causes it to turn from solid to liquid (melting) or liquid to gas (vaporization). When it makes contact with something cooler, it changes the opposite way: gas to liquid (condensation) or liquid to solid (freezing). Water is most dense as a liquid, then as a solid, and least dense as a gas.
While sunlight is the energy source, the greatest force propelling the water cycle is gravity. Gravity is the force of attraction between two objects, and Earth’s gravity pulls matter downward, toward its center. It pulls precipitation down from clouds and pulls water downhill.
Gravity also moves air and ocean water. Cool, dry air is denser than warm, humid air, and cool, salty water is denser than warm, less salty water. Gravity pulls denser air and water downward, forcing less dense air and water to move upward. The warm water near the surface of the ocean heats up with sunlight and evaporates, keeping the water cycle in motion.
A preview of each game in the learning objective is found below.
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