Tracking Water Using NASA Satellite Data

Contributor
NASA - Jet Propulsion Laboratory - California Institute of Technology
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Animation/Movie , Experiment/Lab Activity
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

Using real data from NASA’s GRACE satellites, students track water mass changes in the U.S. over time. Students estimate water resources using heat-map data, create a line graph for a specific location, then assess trends and discuss implications.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Grade 5
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

5-ESS2-1 Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.

Clarification Statement: Examples could include the influence of the ocean on ecosystems, landform shape, and climate; the influence of the atmosphere on landforms and ecosystems through weather and climate; and the influence of mountain ranges on winds and clouds in the atmosphere. The geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere are each a system.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to the interactions of two systems at a time.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
In this lesson, students develop a model in the form of graphs that show monthly changes in water mass in the US over a period of 10 years using data collected by GRACE satellites. The satellites measure the strength of gravity to show the movement (interaction) of water (hydrosphere) on Earth's surface and underground (geosphere). The models developed are in the form of graphs that are depicting the changes in water mass with regards to snow, surface water and soil moisture.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students develop models collaboratively in groups based on evidence from data collected from NASA’s GRACE satellites to describe ways that the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and/or atmosphere interact. Students use the data to create graphs to predict possible implications of evolving global water resources. The data has been collected over time to determine trends/patterns.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students develop models collaboratively in groups based on evidence from data collected from NASA’s GRACE satellites to describe ways that the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and/or atmosphere interact. Students use the data to create graphs to predict possible implications of evolving global water resources. The data has been collected over time to determine trends/patterns.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The hydrosphere is the primary system discussed in this lesson, but the geosphere (concentration of subsurface water sources) is also included. GRACE satellites depend on the interaction of Earth's geosphere and the hydrosphere to determine the mass of water using the force of Earth's gravity. Including the possible implications that changing water data could have on the other Earth systems would strengthen this lesson.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students look for patterns by comparing data from multiple locations. The teacher will need to explicitly identify the crosscutting concept of systems, the components of the system and how they interact. Students could discuss possible differences between chosen locations with regards to the different Earth systems. Based on these comparisons, how might the data collected be affected by the interaction of these systems?

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students look for patterns by comparing data from multiple locations. The teacher will need to explicitly identify the crosscutting concept of systems, the components of the system and how they interact. Students could discuss possible differences between chosen locations with regards to the different Earth systems. Based on these comparisons, how might the data collected be affected by the interaction of these systems?

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Students are developing a model to show and analyze patterns of water movement on Earth. The lesson could be strengthened by asking students to identify stored water sources (such as ice) and how the amount of water stored affects local water sources. Making explicit reference to the Earth systems involved is also recommended.

  • Instructional Supports: The lesson is engaging and relevant to students’ lives. It provides additional resources, such as a link to an additional resource for teaching students how to read heat maps. No formal suggestions for differentiation are included. More opportunities for students to share their ideas should also be added.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Student assessments included in the lesson are not three-dimensional (e.g., reading a heat map and graphing the data, interpreting and evaluating the data through oral discussion, and understanding the implications of water mass movement, the reasons for the movement and predictions of what might happen in the future). To improve the lesson, students could make predictions based on trends in data about what the new GRACE satellites' data will show about movement of water in their area.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The resource does not include a technologically interactive component.