Investigating Erosion

Contributor
Krisann Berglund (Based on materials Created by Susan V. Bosak from the book “Science is…”)
Type Category
Assessment Materials Instructional Materials
Types
Model , Student Guide , Experiment/Lab Activity , Instructor Guide/Manual , Activity
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Description

In this investigation, students will use sand to build a mountain and then use a straw and watering can to simulate wind erosion and water erosion. Students will make observations and then propose ways to slow the erosion and/or speed the erosion. Students will be able to relate the erosion processes to weathering and sediment deposition. Students will make connections how this process has occurred for millions of years and has created the Earth’s features we see today.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Middle School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

MS-ESS2-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on how processes change Earth’s surface at time and spatial scales that can be large (such as slow plate motions or the uplift of large mountain ranges) or small (such as rapid landslides or microscopic geochemical reactions), and how many geoscience processes (such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and meteor impacts) usually behave gradually but are punctuated by catastrophic events. Examples of geoscience processes include surface weathering and deposition by the movements of water, ice, and wind. Emphasis is on geoscience processes that shape local geographic features, where appropriate.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This activity sets up a series of investigations to show how erosion processes have taken place. The activities are easy to set up and the materials and directions are easily attainable. For addressing the actual science practice “Constructing an Explanation” nothing was given but some questions to answer during the activity. To address the practice in more detail, have the students write a conclusion from this point of view: They start out as a jagged mountain peak and end as a grain of sand. They must have 5 pieces of evidence in their conclusion. This conclusion will relate back to the investigations and how the can show that the geoscience processes have changed the Earth’s surface.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students are gathering evidence from their own experiments and they will construct evidence based on their observations. After their erosion experiments students should be able to make connections between erosion,weathering, and the development of sedimentary rock. To address the practice in more detail, have the students write a conclusion from this point of view: They start out as a jagged mountain peak and end as a grain of sand. They must have 5 pieces of evidence in their conclusion. This conclusion will relate back to the investigations and how the can show that the geoscience processes have changed the Earth’s surface. This activity will also create a “small scale” model to demonstrate the processes.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
To address the practice in more detail, have the students write a conclusion from this point of view: They start out as a jagged mountain peak and end as a grain of sand. They must have 5 pieces of evidence in their conclusion. This conclusion will relate back to the investigations and how the can show that the geoscience processes have changed the Earth’s surface. This activity will also create a “small scale” model to demonstrate the processes.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The activity is designed for students to relate the small scale model of geoscience processes they created to simulate large scale global interactions such as erosion, weathering and deposition. The activity does not address the scale, range and timeframe of the geologic interactions. The activity is a model of earth’s processes in small scale, but a specific range, scale and time frame is not addressed in a specific manner. To address this in addition to the lab activities, students could create and present to the class a project such as: a video, an i-movie or drawing (flipbook style) to show the processes of their mountain eroding over time. This would be presented with a time reference starting from millions of years to present day. Students could depict this process globally to locally during their project. By including this project the disciplinary core idea can be addressed fully.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The activity does not address the scale, range and timeframe of the geologic interactions. The activity is a model of earth’s processes in small scale, but a specific range, scale and time frame is not addressed in a specific manner. To address this in addition to the lab activities, students can create and present to the class a project such as: a video, an i-movie or drawing (flipbook style) to show the processes of their mountain eroding. This will be presented with a time reference starting from millions of years to present day. Students can depict this process globally to locally during their project. By including this project the disciplinary core idea can be addressed fully.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The small scale mountain model, creates a simulation of geologic processes which students make connections to universal geologic processes too large and too sporadic to study on a regular basis. When they repeat the simulation, students make observations of these processes. To address the missing parts of the crosscutting concepts, a portrayal of the time and energy of the scale model could also be simulated. The students could make a timelapse video, i-movie or flipcharts to portray how millions of years of erosion, weathering and deposition have changed the Earth over time and scaling the mountain model in centimeters equal to meters to compare a smaller scale size. The energy can be shown as the erosional process of the water over time.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The small scale mountain model, creates a simulation of geologic processes which students make connections to universal geologic processes too large and too sporadic to study on a regular basis. When they repeat the simulation, students make observations of these processes. To address the missing parts of the crosscutting concepts, a portrayal of the time and energy of the scale model could also be simulated. The students could make a timelapse video, i-movie or flipcharts to portray how millions of years of erosion, weathering and deposition have changed the Earth over time and scaling the mountain model in centimeters equal to meters to compare a smaller scale size. The energy can be shown as the erosional process of the water over time.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
By including a project to address the time and energy of the scale model by using: video, i-movie or flipcharts over millions of years and scaling the mountain model in meters will address the crosscutting concept. The energy can be shown as the erosional process of the water over time.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The activity has students constructing explanations based on evidence from their models of mountain erosion. The phenomena are geologic processes found on the Earth; wind, water, erosion and deposition and how that phenomena can shape Earth’s history over time.The building of a scale size model of a mountain and conducting their own experiments and designing a solution to speed or slow the process. The model of the mountain can be represented in scale and patterns can be observed from testing the wind and the water. Specific explanations from evidence that the students create must be addressed, not just answering the questions presented during the activity. The mountain activity is a model, but scale and time were not called out specifically. By adding a geologic timeframe http://geologicaltimechart.com/ and adding scale ( cm=m ) to the model will address the parts that are not included as well as a final conclusion that is based on student gathered evidence.

  • Instructional Supports: The activity provides clear instructions and materials. There are suggestions on the website on how to used this lesson and assessments. No differentiation for struggling learners, but I would group them together in groups of 3-4 when creating their mountain, so they can work as a team. Directions and questions can be preprinted so the student could answer during the model of erosion investigation. A variation could be to make one giant class mountain outside. Observations could be made of any changes over a specified amount of time.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Assessment items are listed and some teacher information is given. However, no rubric for evaluation, no final template or directions for a conclusion based on evidence are provided. Teacher and students move about at their own pace, questions are hard to find as they are embedded in the steps of the activity.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This resource has no technological component except for accessing the initial information from the website.