Water Cycle - Oceans (1)
Pre Lab 

  • Comparing fresh and salt water.
  • Discovering bodies of fresh and salt water.
  • fresh water
  • ocean water

Students use a worksheet to compare fresh water with salt water.


Globes usually don't distinguish between fresh water and salt water, everything is colored blue!  But there is a big difference between salt and fresh water.  We cannot drink salt water and you certainly would not want to wash clothes or your hair in it.  Fresh water is the fluid that our body needs.  Discuss with students that most of the fresh water bodies are small and form lakes or rivers.  Fresh water needs to have newly precipitated water to be salt free.  Older lakes, like the Great Salt Lake in Utah,  have more evaporation than precipitation and are considered salt lakes. 

  1. Give students inflatable globes and have them locate different water masses.  Make a list on the board as they tell you if a water mass is fresh or salty.  The list should look similar to the one below. 



     Lake Superior, USA
     Lake Michigan, USA
     Lake Huron, USA
     Lake Erie, USA
     Lake Ontario, Canada
       any local lakes
     Pacific Ocean
     Atlantic Ocean
     Indian Ocean
     Arctic Ocean
     Salt Lake, Utah
  1. Students may have trouble reading the oceans, seas, and lakes but it’s never too young to learn geographic locations.  You may want to tell students that ice is only made of water without the salt. The ice in the Arctic and Antarctica is salt free.
  2. You may want to point out the 4 major oceans including the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic.  Remember that the limits of the oceans are arbitrary, as there is only one global ocean.  
  3. Students may ask what are the smaller salty water areas called.  The term sea is used to refer to smaller bodies of salt water like the Mediterranean Sea or the Red Sea.  However, historically the term sea can also mean the larger oceans.   The “Seven Seas” refers to  bodies of water known to explorers in the fifteenth century.  
  4. The worksheet shows the eastern part of the United States.  Instruct students to color the fresh water lakes (the Great Lake region) a different color blue than the Atlantic Ocean which is salt water.  Color the land brown or green and have them label Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Great Lakes. A gulf is a protected arm of an ocean.

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