The Arctic Ocean and the water cycle with Prof Mark Brandon

Lesson overview

Students will visit the Arctic Ocean and learn about the water cycle. They will first consider whether it rains / snows more in Belfast or the Arctic, and then will conduct a practical to link the ideas of temperature and evaporation (and precipitation). Students will then put the concepts of evaporation and precipitation into the context of the entire water cycle.

Learning outcomes

  • Name the main geographical features of the water cycle
  • Observe how evaporation rates differ with temperature
  • Describe the water cycle using precise vocabulary

Lesson steps

  1. Mission statement from Prof Mark Brandon (5 mins)
    Students are introduced to their lesson’s mission by polar oceanographer, Dr Mark Brandon. Opportunities for literacy practice using Prof Mark Brandon’s opening statement.
  2. Where? Why? How? (10 mins)
    Present students with two different locations, one in the Arctic and one in the UK. Students develop predictions on the amount of snow / rain in each location and consider how these could be tested.
  3. Evaporation rates practical (part 1) (10 mins)
    Students will use practical observation to investigate the link between temperature and evaporation. This first stage of the practical involves the set up. The analysis and observation are addressed in Step 6.
  4. Features of the water cycle (15 mins)
    Students put their learning about evaporation rates and precipitation into context through identifying the main features of the water cycle through a ‘flash diagram’ activity.
  5. The water cycle process (15 mins)
    Students combine their knowledge of the main features of the water cycle with the processes involved (evaporation, condensation and precipitation) using a card sort activity.
  6. Evaporation rates practical (part 2) (15 mins)
    Students observe the samples from earlier in the lesson and describe the changes that have taken place. They put these observations into the context of the water cycle and how temperature can affect different precipitation rates in different places.
  7. Summative assessment (20 mins)
    Students answer exam style questions to assess their learning.


By task
To support lower ability students, focus on labelling the features in the water cycle and observing evaporation at different temperatures. Use the flash game and practical activity to facilitate this. Students can demonstrate their learning by answering Question 1(b) on Student Sheet 6c (7-9).

To challenge higher ability students, focus on using ideas about temperature to explain differences in the water cycle, using evidence to support conclusions. Use the practical activity and Student sheet 6b to facilitate this. Students can demonstrate their learning by answering Question 2(b) on Student Sheet 6c (9-11).