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Oregon Coast Aquarium, CAscade Head Unesco Biosphere Reserve, Lincoln County School District


5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Biology, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Activity - Outdoors
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Experiments
  • Interactive Media
  • Projects
  • Videos, CC, Subtitles
  • Games

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, Oregon, Oregon Coast


PDF, YouTube Video

Raindrop to Sea

Ask a Question

  • This unit about the water cycle includes multiple lessons about watersheds that involve experiments, journaling, art projects, and discussions.
  • The unit ends with a final project where students complete a stewardship action for a watershed.
  • This unit includes 8 lessons (referred to as learning circles) with multiple activities ranging from 10 minutes to 50 minutes in each lesson.
Teaching Tips


  • This unit also includes extension activities to capitalize on student interest in any one of the lessons.
  • The lessons are broken down step-by-step, making them easy to implement.
  • This unit has an excellent mix of science, art, and math and many hands-on learning opportunities that will keep students engaged throughout!

Additional Prerequisites

  • The introductory lesson, as well as each of the 8 learning circles begin with a YouTube video ranging from 4-5 minutes in length that students will need to refer back to throughout the learning circle.
  • The "Whole Systems" education link on page 3 will take you to a page in a different language.
  • The "Monterey Bay Aquarium" link on page 37 and the "Oregon Watershed Profiles" link on page 45 are broken links and click 'About" after using the "Coast Connections Education Project" link.
  • Students should know how to read a graph (including the x- and y-axes), and how to read and write coordinates using latitude and longitude.


  • The activities involving graphing and answering questions about data can naturally be extended into math classes (LC1 activity B, LC6 activity B, LC2 extension activity). 
  • Each video has a discussion question, which can be utilized in language arts classes working on collegiate discussions.
  • English language learners may benefit from having the vocabulary words introduced ahead of time, to allow for more time to practice with and process this vocabulary.
  • In LC3 activity A, students have to cite evidence from articles to support their claims, which is an activity that can be worked into language arts classes.
  • There are a few new vocabulary words in each of the lessons, so students may benefit from a word wall to add terms to as they move through the unit. 
  • Students with learning difficulties will benefit from having a group or partner throughout this unit to work with and discuss ideas with. 
  • This unit is designed for 6th grade, however the standards assessed align with 7th and 8th grade as well, and some 5th grade classes may also be able to use this resource.
  • Each of the lessons within this unit can be used independently.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a lesson plan with eight different sections. Overall, this lesson plan takes a close look at the water cycle and watershed in the Cascade Head Biosphere reserve on the central Oregon coast. The sections follow the path a raindrop would take after it falls and travels back to the ocean, with each section being a different step in this journey. In each section, information relevant to the area of focus is included. This includes topics such as local plants and animals, geology, and many others. Each section contains a video, vocabulary words, and multiple activities. Each activity has instructions, materials, and information about the topic covered. Ideas on what to ask students and alternatives for implementation are provided. Final project ideas that connect all eight sections are included, along with additional resources and a glossary of vocabulary words. While this resource is quite extensive, each activity or section could be done individually, especially if not all the subjects in the lesson plan are relevant to a class. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.
      • MS-ESS2-4 Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth's systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity.
      • 5-ESS2-2 Describe and graph the amounts and percentages of water and fresh water in various reservoirs to provide evidence about the distribution of water on Earth.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
      • 5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
    • LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
      • MS-LS1-5 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.
      • MS-LS1-6 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-2 Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
      • MS-LS2-3 Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.
      • MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
    • PS2: Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
      • MS-PS2-4 Construct and present arguments using evidence to support the claim that gravitational interactions are attractive and depend on the masses of interacting objects.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.2.6-8 Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions, and changes in their environmental characteristics.
      • D2.Geo.10.6-8 Analyze the ways in which cultural and environmental characteristics vary among various regions of the world.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Measurement & Data (K-5)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.B.2 Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Use operations on fractions for this grade to solve problems involving information presented in line plots. For example, given different measurements of liquid in identical beakers, find the amount of liquid each beaker would contain if the total amount in all the beakers were redistributed equally.
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.C.5 Relate volume to the operations of multiplication and addition and solve real world and mathematical problems involving volume.
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