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  • The water cycle happens all around us. Changes in the state of water and the water cycle are driven by the Sun’s energy. There is no new water in the system: water in the water cycle has been cycling around the Earth for millions of years. We are interacting with the same water molecules that have existed since prehistoric times!

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    The water cycle

    The time it takes for water to move through the Earth’s system can vary greatly, but it means that water is continuously recycled, maintaining the conditions for life on Earth and producing weather around the world.

    This activity is part of a suite of resources that support Smart Water – a context for learning, which provides students and teachers with opportunities to connect with water and learn more about drinking water in the Waikato region. The science and mātauranga concepts that underpin Smart Water are transferable to other locations in Aotearoa New Zealand.

    In this activity, students learn about the states of water that exist in nature as well as the processes that are part of the water cycle.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • discuss where water can be found in nature and how it changes state
    • explain the main processes of the water cycle.

    Download the Word file (see link below).

    Nature of science

    This activity supports the Nature of Science ‘Investigating in science’ strand. Students explore simple models to develop explanations.

    Related content

    Smart Water – a context for learning groups Smart Water resources into key science and teaching concepts that underpin water conservation.

    Learning about the water cycle curates background information, activities and media in one handy place.

    Rivers and Us – a context for learning has pedagogical information and links to numerous resources that explore water use and water quality.

    Activity ideas

    Other activities in Smart Water:

    • Getting to know water collects students’ prior knowledge and experiences of freshwater as the starting point to form an inquiry plan.
    • Te mana o te wai explores the concept of mauri – the health and wellbeing of a waterway.
    • Water in the Waikato explores the major freshwater features and sources of water for the Waikato region.
    • Global water perspectives explores water availability and water stress around the world, with comparison and reflection on Aotearoa New Zealand’s situation.
    • Getting water ready to drink explores the drinking water treatment process.
    • Water use challenge investigates how much water we need for our daily tasks.
    • Water issues and effects explores water issues in the Waikato region, their effects and alternative possibilities.
    • Being smart with water uses the knowledge gained from the ongoing inquiry to make a difference in how we use water.

    Useful link

    Visit Smart Water for water level alerts, water saving tips and more.


    This resource has been produced with the support of Smart Water.

    Rights: Smart Water

    Smart Water

    Smart Water is a partnership between Hamilton City Council, Waipā District Council and Waitomo District Council. Aiming to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of water from source to tap, it supports schools, organisations and the community to use water sustainably.

      Published 11 May 2022 Referencing Hub articles
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