Precipitation Education: Engaging Students to Think Critically and Creatively

Fresh water is our most precious resource.  While Earth is the water Planet, most of the water (97%) is salt water. Only 3% of the planets water is fresh water and only 1% is potable. Precipitation is the main source of the freshwater required by living things on the planet.

(What’s up with Precipitation? )

However, the precipitation is not equally distributed and this leads to areas of severe draught and other areas of severe flooding. The GPM (Global Precipitation Measurement) Mission launched on February 27, 2014 helps scientists collect data on events like landslide events, hurricanes, powerful winter storms and Monsoons.  (Launch information can be located at: )

The water cycle is a key concept in the NGSS standards.  When confronted with teaching weathering and erosion, weather, climate and earth system relationships educators will find this resource valuable.  The Precipitation Mission pages ( ) offers educators featured articles, the latest half-hour precipitation data and extreme weather news. The data is free to the public. The web page offers multimedia resources as well as separate links specifically designed for students and teachers.

The videos feature NASA scientists and subject matter experts telling their rich stories of research exploration and discovery.  The topics are relevant to educational standards and real life authentic data collection.

Educators are able to Search for lesson plans, videos articles, websites and interactive technology for the classroom by grade level from Kindergarten- 12th grade.

If you are looking for Project Based Learning modules or Problem Based inquiry lessons, the societal applications links will provide you with a multitude of readymade lessons. Each lesson includes a facilitator guide, student pages and extension resources.

If you are looking for free authentic data sets linked to a designed lesson plan Precipitation Education offers interactive technology labs.  The EarthLabs Drought module includes a teacher overview and nine labs researching real world problem based exploration. The lessons encourage analysis and synthesis of the data to engage students in solving the mitigating problem. (

See the newest activities and explore the website highlights to explore ways to encourage students to think critically and creatively.

Susan Kohler
Educator Professional Development Specialist, NASA STEM EPDC
NASA Glenn Research Center