"The Ever-Changing Crust"

Vermilion Parish
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Lesson/Lesson Plan
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.



This lesson is part of a Grade 4 Unit on Weathering and Erosion. Students discuss landform changes, then create and demonstrate several weathering and erosion models, focusing on wind, water, ice, and chemical influences. Students are given opportunities to modify models, recording data changes.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 4
Access Restrictions

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

Performance Expectations

4-ESS2-1 Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.

Clarification Statement: Examples of variables to test could include angle of slope in the downhill movement of water, amount of vegetation, speed of wind, relative rate of deposition, cycles of freezing and thawing of water, cycles of heating and cooling, and volume of water flow.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to a single form of weathering or erosion.

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
In order to more fully implement the PE, students could illustrate changes they think would occur in real landforms after their models have been tested. They could provide evidence for their ideas using observations recorded in their science journals.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
In order to fully implement the practice, students could observe changes that occur during the activity, then design possible solutions to lessen the effects. For example, solutions might include having trees planted on slopes to alleviate wind and water effects. Students could test their designs, record data using illustrations, then compare ways their school erosion areas could be addressed.

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
tudents could observe changes in the school area which have occurred due to weathering and erosion. They could create a list of changes, (Example- cracks in concrete, sand piled against a building), determining what caused the changes. This outdoor observation could take place before students create their weathering stations.

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
nce results of the weathering activities have been completed, students could illustrate changes, comparing the science journal predictions (mentioned in PE Tips) with the changes they observed. Class discussion could include having students compare their sets of illustrations, noting changes that occurred. A “before"/"after” class chart could display each student or student group’s set of illustrations, as a focus of the discussion.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson allows students to engage in three dimensional learning as they construct explanations for evidence of weathering and erosion, using models. Emphasis is placed on the effects of wind, water and chemical change. Their results provide them with clues about probable causal relationships. The lesson is limited since the real-life video supplements are often unable to be accessed, and parts of the lesson focus on “slow” and “fast” changes, which are not part of the NGSS standards. Teachers could eliminate those sections, and use more recent websites (e.g National Park Sites -Grand Canyon) to allow students to observe the real-life effects of weathering and erosion.

  • Instructional Supports: Students are engaged in meaningful scenarios that are relatable to them. A vocabulary review in the form of cards is provided; however, students might use those cards as supplemental reinforcement after they complete the hands-on activities. Differentiation is not specifically provided, but several examples of probing questions that would elicit student learning are included.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The focus of this lesson allows the teacher to directly observe students interacting weathering/erosion models. They investigate, record data, and note patterns that allow them to form causal relationships. Formative/summative assessments/lesson rubrics are not included. Scoring guidance is not provided, however rubrics could be designed based on student journal entries. Formative assessment techniques could be implemented as the teacher monitors student responses to the inferential questions included in the lesson.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: An interactive technological component is not included in this resource.