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  • STEM at Home

    Discover science and connect to the natural world while staying safe and healthy at home!

    Check out our virtual programming schedule and browse through our list of resources, activities, crafts, videos, and more to help continue to bring science into your world.

  • Field Trip

    More than 250 interactive science, technology, energy and health exhibits await students of all ages.  We’re experts at making sure that bringing your group to the Museum is smooth sailing all the way. Discounted admission for groups of 20 or more!

  • ScienceWorks

    Your students become scientists during our ScienceWorks Labs. All programs align with National Science Education Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations and Common Core State Standards. Labs are available year-round for preschool to middle school students and are led by an instructor.

  • Outreach

    Our Outreach staff brings the Museum to you—at schools, libraries, community centers, and festivals—by delivering hands-on programming customized to your schedule and curriculum interests.

  • Distance Learning

    Experience live, interactive Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum programs right in your classroom! Our educators use videoconferencing technology to share science and math activities with your students, engaging them in a dynamic, hands-on learning experience.

  • Scouts

    The best place for Scouts to explore STEAM! 

  • Summer Camp

    Through the Unity in Learning partnership, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Leslie Science & Nature Center, and Yankee Air Museum now offer families incredible day camps at two fantastic locations in Ann Arbor and Belleville.

  • Birthday Parties

    What do you get when you mix one part science, one part fun, and one part celebration? A birthday party at the Museum! Experience a birthday full of discovery by exploring more than 250 exhibits and experimenting with a hands-on activity. Celebrate in a unique and interactive environment to make your special day really special!

  • Evening Workshops

    Want to dive deeply into specific topics? Join us for an Evening Workshop! Explore a variety of science concepts through hands-on activities, interactive demos, and experiments in a small group setting. Topics vary from stop-motion animation to computer programming to engineering – there’s sure to be something that piques your interest!

Back to Programs

WORKSHOP The Water Cycle

Outreach Workshop: Water Cycle

Look beyond the four stages of the water cycle and get a first-hand look at the many paths of a water molecule. Where does the rain come from and where does it go after it hits the ground? 

Fees are determined by distance from the Museum:

  • Within 25 miles: $340
  • 26-50 miles: $370
  • 51+ miles: $370 + $.58 per mile
  • Each additional hour: $125

Register today!

Michigan K-12 Science Standards


Construct an argument with evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot.


Develop a model to represent the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area.


Obtain information to identify where water is found on Earth and that it can be solid or liquid.


Develop a model to describe that matter is made of particles too small to be seen.


Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.

Water Cycle Pre-visit Vocabulary

Atmosphere: The envelope of gas or air surrounding the earth.

Cloud: A visible collection of liquid water or ice condensed in the atmosphere.

Collection: The pooling together of precipitation into bodies of water.

Condensation: The process by which water vapor clumps together to form liquid water.

Evaporation: The process by which liquid water is converted to water vapor.

Molecule: The smallest particle of any substance that retains the same characteristics.

Non-porous Surface: A surface that does not absorb any water.

Porous Surface: A surface, such as a sponge, that readily soaks up water.

Precipitation: Rain, sleet, hail or snow falling from the atmosphere to the earth.

Water Body: A large pool of water. For instance, an ocean, river, lake, etc.

Water Cycle: The natural cycle controlling the distribution of water throughout the earth. This involves four main processes: evaporation, condensation, precipitation and collection.

Water Vapor: Water in its gaseous state.

Water Cycle Post-visit Activity

Post-visit activities provide your students with an opportunity to review workshop-presented concepts and introduce related subjects. Below you will find a classroom extension activity and a list of suggested resources for further exploration. We hope that you enjoyed our Outreach Hands-On Workshop and we look forward to visiting your students again!

Hands-on Activity: Build Your Own Terrarium


  • 1 large, clear tupperware container (at least 1 L) with lid per student, group or class.
  • Gravel
  • Potting Soil
  • Powdered Charcoal
  • Small, slow growing plants or seeds
  • Water


  1. Add about 1 inch of gravel to the bottom of your container.
  2. Add about ½ inch of charcoal above the gravel.
  3. Add about 2–3 inches of potting soil.
  4. Carefully place 2 or 3 small plants or seeds into your soil.
  5. Pour in just enough water to moisten the soil.
  6. With a pencil poke a few small holes in the lid.
  7. Securely fasten your lid on top of your container.
  8. Place your terrarium in the sunlight.


You have just created a terrarium. This is a closed and self-contained system. If you are building one terrarium for the class, feel free to make it larger. Watch carefully as the day passes. You should notice that inside your terrarium, water will evaporate from the soil, condense on the lid, precipitate down onto the plants and collect in the soil. This cycle will repeat over and over again. You shouldn’t have to add any water. If students are making their own, have them keep a scientific journal about what they notice.

The gravel acts as a drainage system. Without the gravel, roots could end up sitting in water and rotting. The charcoal serves a similar purpose as the gravel. It helps with drainage and keeps roots healthy. The plant grows in the potting soil. If you notice mold forming, open your container and either transfer your plants to a new terrarium or put them in a regular pot.

Suggested Resources


Relf, Pat and Carolyn Bracken. The Magic School Bus Wet All Over: A Book About the Water Cycle. Scholastic Paperbacks. 1996.
McKinney, Barbara and Michael S. Maydak. A Drop Around the World. Dawn Publications (CA). 1998.
Royston, Angela. The Life and Times of a Drop of Water: The Water Cycle. Raintree. 2006.
Olien, Rebecca. The Water Cycle (First Facts, Water All Around). Capstone Press. 2005.


The Water Cycle
Water Cycle — Animated Diagram 
Water Cycle Activities

WORKSHOP The Water Cycle


Library, School

50 minutes

K-2nd, 3-5th


Natural Sciences

Still not sure we have the experience you want?

Visit unityinlearning.org to open a gateway to hands-on discovery, exploration of the natural world, and experiences that take flight.

Through the Unity in Learning partnership with the Ann Arbor Hands-On MuseumLeslie Science and Nature Center, and Yankee Air Museum we provide over 100 different  programs at our facilities, on site at your location, or through interactive video conferencing.