Materials List: Soil Contamination in Rivers

This activity was designed for classrooms with access to an erosion table. However, if unavailable, instructions are provided below for alternate materials.

Each group needs:

To share with the entire class:

River Simulation Options

  1. Erosion table with hydraulic bench for academic purposes, such as the Hydro-Geology Stream Table - Hubbard (#Z06394M) for $1,330 from Nasco at; the recommended table dimensions are 26-in wide X 66-in long X 6-in deep; the author used the erosion table shown in Figure 1.
  2. Alternatively, use a stream table, such as, such as the Stream Table Kit (#SB01704M) for $80 from Nasco at; its heavy plastic tray is 14-in wide X 48-in long X 3-in deep with a drain hole.
  3. Alternatively, create a homemade erosion table, such as the one shown in Figure 4. Although a bit more work, it is an efficient low-cost alternative that can be created for ~$34 using the following supplies:
  • a large plastic box of similar dimensions to the erosion and stream tables; manually create a drain (hole) on one end, such as this 16.25-in wide X 23-in long X 6-in deep 28-quart storage bin for ~$7 at
  • a second pan or bucket to collect the water, such as a five-gallon bucket for ~$3
  • a filter, such as a piece of cheesecloth, to keep soil from escaping the pan, ~$4
  • a pump, with velocity or flow meter if possible, so students can observe differences in erosion effects due to flow rate changes, ~ $20
    A photograph shows a long, black plastic tray with six-inch rims filled with beige sand. At the far end, a stream of water flows in, traveling down the table through a meandering canyon in the sand.
    Figure 1. The erosion table used in this activity, filled with fine sand.
    Copyright © 2012 Ryan Cain, Polytechnic Institute of NYU