Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rainy Day Activity: The Water Cycle Game Reinvented

The water cycle game shows up in a few places, and goes by a few names. In Project WET, it’s called The Incredible Journey. To take an ‘incredible journey,’ participants act as water molecules, start at one of the nine places water can be (clouds, glaciers, oceans, rivers, lakes, underground, soil, plants, and animals), and roll a die to find out which part of the cycle to move to. After a few rounds, patterns emerge that participants can interpret: There’s a lot of water in the ocean; water in the ground tends to stay in the ground; water in a glacier tends to stay in the glacier; evaporation and sublimation into the clouds are how much of the water moves from one stage of the cycle to another; and, the amount of water in the cycle is constant.

Design an adequate record sheet to accompany the activity, provide adequate guidance before and during the activity, and summarize the trends discovered through playing the activity and participants will have a worthwhile experience. But where are the tangible-intangible links? What will participants take home?

The answers are… beads! And a bracelet!

I cannot even take credit for this. One of the Earth Camp counselors got it from a ShrevCORPS team leader who got it from a Project Learning Tree facilitator. But it is so awesome! I have to pass it on:

Instead of having the participants work in teams and record each leg of their journey with a pencil and paper, have each participant work independently and collect a colored bead from each station. When they have enough beads to fit around their wrists, tie it off and it’s done. Each participant has a personalized bracelet to keep, and each bead of the bracelet represents where her water molecule has been. Talk about tangible!

About the beads…

I went to Michael’s and for frugality’s sake I purchased 1 pound of mini pony beads in assorted colors, along with 20 yards of plastic cord for about $7.00. There were 11 colors in the bag. Once sorted, there were over 200 beads of each color. One pound of beads and 20 yards of cord is enough to make at least 30 bracelets.

White = clouds
Red = animals
Orange = ground water
Yellow = rivers
Green = plants
Blue = ocean
Indigo = lakes
Violet = glacier
Black = soil
The assortment included cream and pink beads that were not used in the game.

If you’re doing this with a small group, you might consider purchasing more novel beads. Animal-shaped and plant-shaped beads, seashells, wooden beads, and semiprecious stones like amethyst and lapis lazuli are easy enough to find. It may even be possible to find cloud-shaped beads.

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