ALEX Classroom Resource


Earth's Freshwater

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Earth's Freshwater


Content Source:

National Geographic
Type: Lesson/Unit Plan


Most people have heard Earth referred to as "the water planet." With that name comes the rightful image of a world with plentiful water. In photographs taken from space, we can see that our planet has more water than land. However, of all the water on Earth, more than 99 percent of Earth's water is unusable by humans and many other living things - only about 0.3 percent of our freshwater is found in the surface water of lakes, rivers, and swamps. The teacher guide describes our current understanding of water cycling and freshwater issues that affect natural and human communities.

Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 5
15 ) Identify the distribution of freshwater and salt water on Earth (e.g., oceans, lakes, rivers, glaciers, ground water, polar ice caps) and construct a graphical representation depicting the amounts and percentages found in different reservoirs.

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
E4.10: The supply of many Earth resources such as fuels, metals, fresh water, and farmland is limited. Humans have devised methods for extending the use of Earth resources through recycling, reuse, and renewal.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
Crosscutting Concepts: Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth's Systems
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Describe and graph the amounts of salt water and fresh water in various reservoirs to provide evidence about the distribution of water on Earth.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Fresh water
  • Salt water
  • Oceans
  • Lakes
  • Rivers
  • Glaciers
  • Ground water
  • Polar ice caps
  • Reservoir
  • Graph
Students know:
  • Nearly all of Earth's available water is in the ocean.
  • Most fresh water is in glaciers or underground; only a tiny fraction is in streams, lakes, wetlands, and the atmosphere.
Students are able to:
  • Graph the given data (using standard units) about the amount of salt water and the amount of fresh water in each of the following reservoirs, as well as in all the reservoirs combined, to address a scientific question:
    • Oceans.
    • Lakes.
    • Rivers.
    • Glaciers.
    • Ground water.
    • Polar ice caps.
  • Use the graphs of the relative amounts of total salt water and total fresh water in each of the reservoirs to describe that:
    • The majority of water on Earth is found in the oceans.
    • Most of the Earth's fresh water is stored in glaciers or underground.
    • A small fraction of fresh water is found in lakes, rivers, wetlands, and the atmosphere.
Students understand that:
  • Standard units are used to measure and describe physical quantities such as the amounts of salt water and fresh water in various reservoirs.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Dynamics of Ecosystems

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.5.15- Identify the distribution of freshwater and saltwater on Earth (e.g., oceans, lakes, rivers, glaciers, ground water, polar ice caps).

Tags: freshwater, water, water cycle
License Type: Custom Permission Type
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  This resource provided by:  
Author: Stephanie Carver