The Special Properties of Water

Driving Question

Why are water's unique properties so important for life on Earth?  How do those properties impact our lives and community?

Big Idea

When searching for life on other planets, it is the presence of liquid water that is the first requirement—as it is water’s unique properties that make it so essential for life on Earth. Students will do a deep learning dive into these unique properties of water through hands-on lab activities. Then, through research, interviews, and other methods of information gathering, they will have an opportunity to dive even further into one property of water (or more) that interests them most and explore how that property impacts their own lives and/or communities.

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Student Entry Event


Students Will Learn

  • The chemical basis for water’s unique properties
  • The shape of a water molecule and why it’s called a polar molecule
  • Why water is called the “Universal Solvent”
  • The cause of water’s surface tension
  • The molecular definitions of “cohesion” and “adhesion”
  • What causes capillary action
  • The definition of “heat capacity”
  • Why ice floats and why that is so important
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Students Will Be Able To

  • Understand and explain to others the molecular basis for water's unique qualities and why those qualities are so essential for life on Earth
  • Collaborate with team members to deeply research one property of water (or more) that is relevant to our lives and/or community
  • Organize and structure their project approach
  • Prepare and present a 10 minute “lightning talk” accompanied by a slide presentation
  • Effectively present research results to a large audience
  • Thoughtfully reflect back upon one’s experience and performance as member of a project team
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