Lesson Plan

Cape Lookout and the Water Cycle

Analyzing sediment from various ecological zones

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Grade Level:
Eighth Grade
Anthropology, Architecture, Colonial History, Earth Science, Economics, Engineering, Geography, Geology, Maritime History, Wilderness
45-50 minutes per class visit
Group Size:
Up to 24 (4-8 breakout groups)
indoors or outdoors
National/State Standards:
8.E.1.1, 8.E.1.2, 8.E.1.3 8.E.1.4, and 8.P.2.1


Using Cape Lookout as an example, students will identify the major elements of the water cycle and how this process is important to people biologically and politically.


The learner will be able to: 

• Using Cape Lookout National Seashore as an example, describe the water cycle's major elements and their roles in supporting life on earth 
• Understand why the water cycle is important to us, biologically and politically 
• Understand the need f or conservation of water resources 
• Describe the major pollutants in our water, where they come from, what they harm, and what can be done about them 
• Understand the components of a healthy marine system and the need to preserve our beaches, barrier islands, wetlands, and oceans 


Pre-Site Visit Activities: TEACHER COMPLETED

Knowledge Assessment (in post-site materials)

Water Cycle Introduction
• Split students in groups of 2-3 and give each group a water cycle poster
• Have them reed the "Quick Summary of the Water Cycle"
• Use the discussion points below to guide students through the materials
• Have students complete the "Water Cycle Vocabulary" and review as a class

Discussion Points

• Although we depict the water cycle as a circular mechanism flowing continually from the ocean to the atmosphere to the land and back to the ocean, these elements do not follow each other in order. All of these elements are in play at the same time.
o For example: Evaporation happens not only from the ocean, but at the same time from the land masses, and from surface runoff.
o The water cycle is the constant movement of water on, in, and above the earth changing from liquid to vapor to ice and back again.

• The water cycle is a closed system.
o The water contained on the earth is all the water we have. No new water is coming into the system.

• While the water cycle is a closed system, the water on Earth is all interconnected.
o Water from Egypt may end up in England. Glacier ice from the Antarctic can find its way to the faucets of townhouses in Raleigh.

• Water originally came from superheated magma when the earth was first formed.
o As the magma cooled, the water it contained evaporated cooling the atmosphere enough to allow water to accumulate on the surface as a liquid.

On-Site Visit Activities: RANGER COMPLETED

Day 1 and Day 2

Brief review of the water cycle

Will Wars of the Future be over Water?

Where in the Cycle is the Water?

The Water Cycle and Cape Lookout

Where Does Our Water Come From Activity

Water Infiltration and Discharge Activity

Day 3 and Day 4

Characteristics of a Healthy Marine Environment

Plastic: the Most Common Pollutant in Our Oceans
• Slide Show Trash Movement in the Ocean
• What this Means for the Ecosystems of Cape Lookout

Day 5

Human Impacts on Barrier Islands in NC
• Cape Hatteras vs. Cape Lookout

Building on the Shore Activity

Post-Site Visit Activities: TEACHER COMPLETED

Knowledge Assessment

Water Usage and Consumption
• Have students read "How Much Water" and "Daily Water Consumption" handouts
• Use the discussion points below to guide students through the materials
• Water Consumption Journal Activity
• Draw Cape Lookout Water Cycle posters

Discussion Points

• List the top five (5) items students think we need to do to start conserving water.

• Compare the Water Consumption Journals
o Identify the activity which uses the most water
o Discuss ways to reduce water use

• Complete the USGS water challenge questionnaires
o Talk about how close they came to estimating the water needed to produce different items