Lesson Time:
45 to 60 minutes



Sensors connected to the Piper Computer Kit provide students with educational hands-on experience that integrates environmental sensory data with unparalleled coding and story adventures.

The Sensor Explorer projects and lessons feature three sensors that you wire up to the Piper Computer. Students will then be guided through character-driven story narratives while using game-like StoryMode to learn how decisions impact final outcomes within three unique StoryMode world puzzles and problems. Coupled with the game experience in StoryMode, students will have fun extending their coding skills using PiperCode while collecting real-world data using the 3 sensors.

This lesson will guide students to examine the water cycle and its relationship to climate changes on earth. As an example, students will use the El Niño phenomenon, also pondering how the air quality in China may affect the air and water quality in the San Fransisco Bay Are.  






Soil and Plant Manager


Air Conditioning Installer



This lesson will guide students to examine the water cycle and its relationship to climate changes on earth. As an example, students will use the El Niño phenomenon, also pondering how the air quality in China may affect the air and water quality in the San Fransisco Bay Area.  





Explore earth’s water cycle



Identify the stages of the water cycle


Learn water cycle vocabulary



Make connections between the water cycle and climate on earth



Ensure students have access to (or you print out copies of) the Lesson 1 graphic organizer.


Teacher-led Discussion (5 minutes)

Provide Context: El Niño

​Students will explore the phenomenon of El Niño to provide a context for the lesson. Use slides 1-4 in this deck to introduce El Niño. Have students read the following blurb (or explain this to students if you prefer):

​“El Niño is a phenomenon commonly associated with climate change. People around the country are affected by this phenomenon in more ways than one. Most recently, weather patterns caused by El Niño are what has been in the news. It’s a problem scientists are working to solve. As citizen scientists, we can also help solve this problem using the Engineering Design Process. First, let’s explore a central environmental process related to this phenomenon - the water cycle. Using our KWL chart, we will plan what we want to learn about the water cycle."

Set up a blank KWL chart on the whiteboard, blackboard, or a sheet of poster paper. As a full class, fill in the chart. You can use the completed version below as a guide.

**Note: A KWL chart for the entire set of lessons could also be helpful. Interested? Click here.

Makers Club - Temperature Lesson 1

Explore: Become an expert on a stage of the water cycle (30-40 minutes)



Put students in groups of 4 (if you have an odd number of students, make groups of 3 or 5 to balance) to Jigsaw the research. Each group should be assigned a stage of the water cycle: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Every member of the group will become an expert on that particular stage.

Provide the groups with the guiding questions and criteria below. Groups should be prepared to present on their phase:

Guiding questions:

  • What happens to water during your phase of the water cycle?
  • Why does this phenomenon occur?
  • How does this stage of the water cycle affect weather and climate?

Presentations should include:

  • Name of their part of the water cycle
  • Drawing of the process
  • How it occurs, when it occurs
  • All matter involved

Once expert groups have finished their research and created their presentations, reorganize students into share groups with at least one member from each expert group having researched each of the phases. Each member of the share group will then present what they learned with their expert group to the share group. This will allow students to learn about each stage of the water cycle from their peers and their own research.

When students are in their share groups, students record their notes on the graphic organizer.


Explain (10-15 Minutes)

Draw: Create a complete diagram

After students have presented in their share groups, ask students to use the stage drawings to create a master drawing of the water cycle. Make sure they can explain what their drawing shows and why they drew each step that way. Encourage them not to look it up, but rather collaborate together to create a drawing.

Use slides 5-11 to review.


Apply: Relating the water cycle to climate phenomena

Ask students the following question: Why would the air in China affect the air/water in the Bay Area of California?

Have students read the following (or explain it to them in your own way):

“The water cycle occurs all over our planet. In the diagram (found in slide 12 of the Lesson 1 Slide Deck), we see that the air in China travels to the Bay Area through the Pacific jet stream and causes poor air quality in the US. Air pollution is reducing ground-level winds in California, and in turn, reducing the amount of evaporation from the ground, lakes, and rivers.”


[Optional]: Have students read this article and write a reflection in their journals.


Closing/Reflection Activity (10-15 Minutes)

Have students complete this summative assessment on the water cycle.


As a Reflective Exit Ticket, have students respond to these writing prompts (found on slide 13):

  • How is each part of the water cycle related to natural disasters?
  • How is the water cycle related to El Niño?