The Hydrosphere: Our Edible Earth

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The Hydrosphere: Our Edible Earth Lab Activity

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The Subsystems of Earth

Earth is the third of eight planets in our solar system, the third planet from the sun, and the only place in the universe known to support life. Our planet earth is a complex, dynamic system comprised of a merger of interacting, interdependent parts forming a connective whole. At a lower level, it is helpful to think of the earth system in terms of four components known as subsystems-the hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. These systems interact by cycles and processes that transform and transfer matter and energy in ways driven by the laws of conservation of matter and energy. These processes are driven from energy from the sun and/or energy sources inside the earth.

Cycles and Processes on Earth

Some of these processes include erosion, evaporation, transpiration, convection currents, transpiration, weathering, or photosynthesis. When observed from space, one of earth’s most prominent features is its abundant water, the primary component of the hydrosphere. Not only do the earth systems overlap, what affects one may also affect another. These interactions may be complex or subtle. For example, volcanic eruptions are dramatic results whereas some undetectable changes also work to alter earth’s surface.

Hydrosphere Lab Introduction

In this laboratory activity, you will make an edible pizza model of the earth which highlights its four subsystems using delicious toppings of your choice! Your teacher will provide you with a pre-baked thick and thin cheese pizza. The pizza crust has already been divided into 4 equal parts. Each part has been labeled one of earth’s subsystems: biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and geosphere. Making a model of the earth will help you to visualize the interdependence of our planet.

The Hydrosphere Learning Objectives:

At the end of this laboratory activity, students are expected to:

  • Describe the characteristics of earths’ four subsystems.
  • Create an edible model that shows the interdependence of earths’ subsystems.

Laboratory Proper:

Teacher Prep:

  1. Divide your class into groups of 5 students; inform students of grouping assignments.
  2. Reorganize your class space to allow students to work in groups.
  3. Determine if you will bake or purchase a thin AND thick crust cheese pizza for each group. If you decide to bake the pizza crusts, see links below for possible recipes.
  4. Obtain basic supplies you will need for each group of 5 students. These include items below:
    • Paper towels, gloves, plastic flatware, & plastic plates.
  5. Obtain the pizza toppings you will need for each group of 5 students. Suggested toppings include:
    • Marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese
    • mushrooms, green peppers, olives
    • Pepperoni, Sausage, Ham, Bacon, Meatballs
    • (Also, consider how you will display toppings for each group. For example, you may choose to utilize single containers for each topping, a buffet style set-up, etc.)
  6. Create a label to display each topping so students can identify what they are choosing.
  7. Bake OR buy the pizza crusts and cook any meats and/or vegetables that will be used for this activity. The link below provides suggestions for pre-cooking items.
  8. Create copies of the lab activity for each student.
  9. Set up your lab stations: basic supplies, pizza toppings, and two “crust” options per group

Hydrosphere Lab Materials (per group of 5 students)

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Procedure:

Your teacher has prepared a fully basked cheese pizza and cooked any meat and/or vegetables for your edible Earth! However, your team will need to decide which toppings to use for your pizza model. As a reminder, the toppings represent items you would “expect” to see on earth of Earth’s four spheres. As you add to your pizza, imagine that you are completing Earth as know it.

Step 1:

Choose your lithosphere. Will you have thick or thin crust? (Note: The geosphere represents all the land on Earth).

Options:

  • Thick crust cheese pizza
  • Thin crust cheese pizza

Step 2:

Choose your hydrosphere. (Note: The hydrosphere is composed of all of Earth’s water.)

Options:

  • Marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese

Step 3:  

Choose your atmosphere. (Note: This gaseous envelope protects us from harmful UV rays.)

Options:

  • Tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers, olives

Step 4:

Choose your biosphere. (Note: Earth’s biosphere is comprised of all living things.)

Options:

  • Pepperoni, Sausage, Ham, Bacon, Meatballs

Step 5:

Discuss these points with your team.

  • How does Earth operate as a system?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • What are similarities and differences in our Edible Earth vs. our actual Earth?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Step 6:

Eat your edible Earth!

Our Edible Earth Activity:

Students record their predictions and results of the lab activity. Once the activity is finished, discuss the lab activity and answer post-lab questions.

We also provided some of the Resources below for you to use in class. iTeachly Members can access all the content for the activity and the following lesson.

Students must come up with a unanimous answer for each question. Discussing the answers usually, results in some excellent dialogue on this topic.

Here are the Files Downloadable Files for the Hydrosphere Our Edible Earth Activity

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The Hydrosphere - PDFs

The Hydrosphere Worksheets - Word Docs & PowerPoints

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