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Be Smart


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type

  • Videos, 6 minutes, 56 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

South and Central America


YouTube Video

The Largest River on Earth Is in the Sky

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  • This video explains how the trees in the Amazon rainforest release twenty trillion liters of water into the air every day, creating a "river" in the sky above Brazil. 
  • Students will learn that trees play a vital role in the Earth's water cycle and also release varying amounts of organic compounds that act as seeds for raindrops. 

Teaching Tips


  • Students may be amazed to find out that Amazonian trees release more water into the air than the Amazon River contains.
  • This could provide an aha moment for students who sometimes forget that trees are alive and responsive to their environment.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The video begins with an advertisement and the video's content ends at 5:33.
  • In the comments section, Be Smart explains that the video incorrectly stated that the Amazon rainforest produces twenty percent of the world's oxygen.


  • Science and geography classes could use this video for a lesson about rainforest biomes. After watching the video, students could list three facts they learned about the Amazon rainforest. In small groups, students could compare their answers and decide if the facts apply to all rainforest biomes or if they are specific to the Amazon rainforest.
  • Advanced biology classes could read the linked study, "Biogenic potassium salt particles as seeds for secondary organic aerosol in the Amazon," to learn more about the compounds that trees release to produce rain.
  • Other resources on this topic include this article on rainforest deforestation, this article on the creation and destruction of rainforests, and this video on climate change and the global water crisis.
Scientist Notes
The video describes how the Amazon rainforest contributes to sustaining and regulating the hydrological cycle across the planet. This resource is interesting for students to gain deep insights on rain formation and the key variables that induce rainfall, including uneven rainfall patterns, intensity, and frequency on the planet. Notably, the datasets used in the resource are accurate. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-1 Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth's materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
      • 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.
      • HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-3 Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.
      • HS-LS2-5 Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
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