Hands-on Activity: Glaciers, Water and Wind, Oh My!
Educational Standards :
Learning Objectives (Return to Contents)
After this activity, students should be able to:
Materials List (Return to Contents)
To share with the entire class:
Chemical Erosion Station
Water Erosion Station
Wind Erosion Station
Glacier Erosion Station
Temperature Erosion Station
Each group should have:
The teacher should have:
Introduction/Motivation (Return to Contents)
Erosion is constantly shaping the Earth's surface. Our Earth looks different than it did 100 years ago and will look even more different 100 years in the future. Erosion has built mountains and carved out deep valleys. All this erosion takes a toll on man-made structures as well. Significant landmarks, like the Sphinx in Egypt or pyramids in South America, can be destroyed if not properly protected. Damage caused by erosion can cost a lot of money to repair. Large-scale erosion is often dangerous and can cause landslides and flooding.
Engineers study erosion so that they can protect the environment, structures, landmarks and people's lives. Engineers design and build structures such as houses, buildings and roads for people to live and work in and, of course, on which to drive their automobiles. They develop designs that will help protect people from landslides and flooding, like levees and barriers. Engineers are also involved in protecting existing land formations and landmarks that people want to keep around, such as ancient pyramids and national monuments.
Today, we are going to look at five types of weathering. We are going to learn about the effects of each type on our surroundings on Earth. Then, we will be one step closer to working out problems like engineers, who need to know about erosion for so many things!
Vocabulary/Definitions (Return to Contents)
Procedure (Return to Contents)
Before the Activity
With the Students
Station 1: Chemical Erosion Station
Station 2: Water Erosion Station
Station 3: Wind Erosion Station
Station 4: Glacier Erosion Station
Station 5: Temperature Erosion Station (this station should be used as a demonstration or done with an adult helper)
Attachments (Return to Contents)
Safety Issues (Return to Contents)
Use eye protection (goggles or safety glasses) during the Temperature Erosion Station.
It is advised if students are not accustomed to using hot plates/burners that an adult supervise the Temperature Erosion Station or conduct this station as a class demonstration.
Troubleshooting Tips (Return to Contents)
Some of the stations can be messy; therefore, clean up might be easier if this activity is done outside.
It is recommended that the temperature erosion station be conducted as demonstration for the whole class or done with an adult helper or teacher supervising the station.
Assessment (Return to Contents)
Discussion Questions: Solicit, integrate and summarize student responses.
Activity Embedded Assessment
Worksheet: Have the students record their observations on the Erosion Worksheet; review their answers to gauge their mastery of the subject.
Problem Solving: Present the class with the Erosion Math Worksheet and ask the students to calculate the effect of erosion in each of the scenarios. Discuss how engineers might need to solve similar problems when working to protect the environment, structures, landmarks and people's lives.
Define It! Drawing: Have students draw pictures of each of the five types of erosion that were discussed and write their own definition of erosion (and its effects) at the bottom of the page.
Activity Extensions (Return to Contents)
Try another activity from www.teachengineering.org called Acid Rain Effects to look at how acid rain (Chemical erosion) can affect living and non-living things.
Have students become "erosion detectives" and develop a list of things in their area (school, home, park) that show erosion at work.
Have students design a way to show the effects of multiple types of erosion on one piece of land (or pile of soil). Does adding more types of erosion (wind and water) to the land increase the changes in landscape? Next, have the students draw designs of how to protect their land (or pile of soil) from the different types of erosion. This is something an engineer might design.
Activity Scaling (Return to Contents)
For upper grades: Have students complete the Erosion Math Worksheet when they finish the stations.
For lower grades: These stations can be done as demonstrations for the entire class. Have student volunteers help with each demonstration. Discuss observations as group.
References (Return to Contents)
Cavers, Curtis. Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, Crops, "Soil Management on Potato Land," March 2006, accessed August 1, 2006. http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/potatoes/bda01s30.html
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, Education and Manpower Bureau, Science Education Section, Science (S1-3), Unit 5: The Wonderful Solvent: Water, Articles, "Acid Rain," accessed July 25, 2006. http://resources.ed.gov.hk/~s1sci/R_S1Science /sp/en/syllabus/unit5/article-ar.htm
National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA Satellite and Information Service, Natural Hazards, "Erosional Landforms," May 3, 2005, accessed August 1, 2006. http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/seg/hazard/slideset/24/24_slides.shtml
United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Erosion, accessed August 1, 2006. http://www.mo.nrcs.usda.gov/news/MOphotogallery/erosion.html
United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Erosion. http://www.ctenvirothon.org/studyguides/soil_docs/wind_water_erosion_pics.pdf Accessed August 1, 2006.
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Landslide Hazards Program, "USGS Landslide Hazards," November 28, 2005, accessed August 1, 2006. http://landslides.usgs.gov/
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Activities to Explore Acid Rain and Building Stones: Activity 9, "Does This Material React With Acid?" July 3, 2001, accessed August 1, 2006. http://geology.er.usgs.gov/eastern/acid9.html
ContributorsTeresa Ellis, Malinda Schaefer Zarske, Janet Yowell
Copyright© 2006 by Regents of the University of Colorado.
Supporting Program (Return to Contents)Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder
Acknowledgements (Return to Contents)
The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed under a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education and National Science Foundation GK-12 grant no. 0338326. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the Department of Education or National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.