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Water, Water Everywhere

Seventy percent of Earth is covered by ocean. Do you know how much of Earth's water is in the ocean? Highlight the box below to see the answer.

More than 97% of Earth's water is found in oceans.

Most of the Earth’s water is in the ocean. It is salty; therefore, it is not useful for us to drink or grow crops. Only about 3% of the Earth’s water is fresh, and much of that is trapped in icecaps and glaciers. Some is underground. Some is in the lakes and streams around us. Only a very small portion of Earth’s water is fresh and available to us. 

Model it!


  • 1-liter beaker (If you do not have a beaker, use a large jar and a measuring cup.)
  • 2 small jars
  • Water
  • Measuring cup that measures in milliliters (ml)
  • Small graduated cylinder or spoon (to measure one ml.)


  1. Measure exactly one liter (1000 ml) of water and pour it into one jar. This water will represent all the water on Earth.
  2. Determine 1% of the water in the jar (hint 1000 * .01). Measure that amount and put it in a jar. This will represent the water in the ground, lakes, streams, clouds, glaciers, etc.
  3. Now you need to put 2.2% more water in the jar. How many ml of water would that be (hint 1000 * .022). This will represent the frozen ice caps. Measure that amount put it in the other jar.
  4. The water remaining in the beaker represents the ocean water on Earth.

You have just made a very simple model of how water is distributed on Earth.

Analysis:Write a short paragraph explaining your model.

Extension: Create a graph for your model.

Download the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader , and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 4th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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