When I teach the water cycle to my 7th grade students (which they should have already learned about before being in my class), I take it one step further and tie in energy levels and states of matter. I have my students show their knowledge of this information in a creative way- the journey of a water drop.
For this project, the students get a "choice board" of options (and also have the ability to suggest their own idea). They have to follow a water drop through the water cycle, while referring to energy and clearly demonstrating what each term means.
My students have done such neat things- videotaped interviews, live puppet shows, children's books, comic strips, descriptive stories, etc. I am amazed each year at their creativity and what they can do!!!
The document is in Word, so you can easily modify any of the "choice" boxes if you so choose. I also attached the rubric that I use. In the far right column, I have students self-grade their projects before I grade it, and count it towards their final project grade.
The document is 4 pages long. The first describes the project, and the second is blank. This makes it easy to copy- it puts the rubric on the 3rd and 4th page, so when double sided, it can be torn off and turned in with the project for grading.
For my 40ish minute classes, I find 3.5 work days is sufficient (the first day I usually do something else for the first part of class, and then intro the project/let them pick groups....that's where the half comes in). I let them work alone, with one other person, or with two other people. My schedule looks like this:
Day 1- (half day) Intro/find groups/get idea checked off
Day 2- work
Day 3- work
Day 4- work
Day 5- no work time in class/do other things, but it's not due until day 6
Day 6- projects due/present
If kids are done by the 2nd or 3rd work day (it happens...), I allow them to do a second project for extra credit.
Not all of the kids have to present- there are certain options that, if chosen, require a presentation as part of their chosen option. For the ones that do not require presentation (such as stories), I let the kids present if they choose to do so. Since the choice board is easy to modify, you COULD require all to present if you choose. However, then you would want to add in another day (depending on the size of your groups/the size of your class).
Have fun! :)