We all need water to live, right? We drink it. We use it to grow food. We even use it to keep clean.
But where does it come from (HINT: not from the tap)? Why does it rain? How does water from rivers, lakes, and oceans transform into big, white clouds? Magic? Not quite.
We’ve got all the answers right here. So, sit back, relax, and listen to our unicycle-riding raindrop. We promise it’ll be the most enjoyable way to learn about the water cycle.
Let’s get started!
There is water everywhere – even in the air!
Yes. You read that correctly. There is water everywhere – even in the air!
Even though you may not feel it as you go about your day-to-day, you are actually constantly surrounded by water: when you sleep, eat dinner, and ride your bike!
The thing is, water doesn’t only exist as a liquid. In fact, water can exist as a liquid, solid, or gas. When in gas form, we call good ol’ H2O water vapour. And it’s this incredible vapour that kick-starts the water cycle.
Evaporation: where it all begins
The first stage of the water cycle is called evaporation. This, put simply, refers to the transformation of water from a liquid to water vapour. Although water is the ultimate transformer, it does need one very special ingredient to make the switch: sunlight!
When water is heated by the sun, it becomes vapour. Vapour is much lighter than liquid water, so floats up, up, up into the sky. There, all the water vapour droplets come together, have a little party, make friends, and form big, beautiful, fluffy clouds.
The bad news is, the good times must end sometime. After all, what goes up must come down.
Condensation: the cooldown
The higher up in the sky you go, the colder and colder it gets. When water vapour is cooled down, it transforms back into liquid. So, like a hot air balloon soaring into the sunset, the clouds rise higher and higher, cooling down the whole way up.
Suddenly, it’s much too cold for the water vapour. It begins condensing. Condensation is the next stage of the water cycle.
Precipitation: time to fly
Now, the vapour is turning back into liquid, making the clouds bigger and heavier. Eventually, the clouds become so big and so heavy they burst, and so begins the precipitation stage.
The water falls back to the ground as snow or rain.
Teaching the water cycle video
It’s time to watch the water cycle video with our good friend the unicycling raindrop: