Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences Education and Outreach

Water Spotters

Rain, weather, and change

The Water Spotters curriculum was developed by teachers and scientists. It includes new lessons that have been developed in coordination with science teachers that emphasize both core scientific standards and application learning about the water cycle. The modules include original lessons and lessons with expanded original material to teach about water and water isotopes and are organized as Teacher Guide (TG) and Student Guide (SG).

What is a water isotope?

Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. The same element (oxygen, say) can appear as different atoms with different numbers of neutrons. We call these different atoms of the same element isotopes. The relative concentrations of isotopes often provide clues about key environmental processes. For example, we use stable water isotopes (stable because they don't radioactively decay) at the NOAA tall tower to track the extent to which the air is humidified by evaporation of falling rain or by evapotranspiration from the land. Learn more about isotopes by clicking the links below:

The video below includes background on the project and illustrates how to collect the precipitation samples.

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