Canyon Carver

Contributor
United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Phenomenon
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.

Reviews

Description

This lesson is one of a series involving the geology of Grand Canyon National Park. Students are asked to make a model of the phenomenon of erosion as it relates to the landscape formation of the Grand Canyon. Students use a milk carton designed to allow water flow through its spout in order to simulate a flowing river. Topographical changes  in elevation are demonstrated as students raise the height of the carton as water is flowing. Other variables include type of sediment used in the simulation. Students observe ways water flow is affected by sediment choice (sand/potting soil) and the degree of its saturation.

 

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 4
Language
English
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 is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Make observations and/or measurements to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence for an explanation of a phenomenon or test a design solution.

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
Teacher guided discussion should occur prior to the student investigation in order to expose questions that students might not otherwise explore. Students could view videos of the Grand Canyon, focusing on discussing the processes by which the canyon was formed. ( See-youtube; grand canyon erosion videos) Questions could include: "What did you notice? What do you think is happening? "How did erosion occur?" Students could be introduced to the investigation materials. " How can these materials be used to demonstrate the process of erosion?" "What do you predict will happen?" "What similarities can be noted between this investigation and the landscape changes noted in the video?" Students could work in groups or journal responses to the questions posed. The practice could be more fully implemented if students gathered quantitative data (slope angle, "canyon" depth created, amount of material washed out of spout, )-- it would go beyond merely making observations and discussing them. The activity could be used as a basis for students to design investigations to answer their own questions. The investigation will allow students to observe and record evidence of erosion, noting landscape changes. Questions which focus on an explanation of the phenomenon could include- " What changes occurred in your landscape? Why do you think they happened? Were the changes the type you predicted? What evidence was produced to explain the phenomenon of erosion in your investigation?

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The core idea could be listed as the topic on a class chart. Students might list their own observations of landscape changes that occur due to the movement of water, either in their local area, or in others they have observed. Teacher might conduct an outdoor exploration of the school area, having students journal examples of landscape changes, in order to provide students with personally relevant evidence of the phenomenon. Students could compare/contrast their examples with those depicted in the Grand Canyon video. Teacher modeled discussion could focus on variables ( rate of water flow, type of sediment, topography) that could affect types of erosion noted. Students could synthesize results of their work by applying results to their investigative topic to the question -"Based on what you found out during this investigation, how do you think the Grand Canyon formed?"

Crosscutting Concepts

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

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students could illustrate/label before and after pictures/diagrams of water demonstration. They could journal differences they noted, giving evidence for their ideas. If students change elevation variables, those differences could also be discussed, explaining the impact of water flow. A bar graph could be created, using sediment measurement suggested in PE tips. Teacher structured discussion could focus on developing students’ experience to infer differences in landscape changes that occur based on type of sediment involved. Comparison with Grand Canyon formation could also be included in discussion.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The lesson does provide opportunities to allow students to develop toward proficiency of the PE. A closer alignment between the cross-cutting concepts and the DCI could be demonstrated by having students generate questions about the effects of water flow on movement of sediment. Teacher guided discussion could include a focus on types of sediments, and types of measurements (based on types of sediment and force of water flow) that could be implemented to answer those questions. Emphasis could also be placed on the concept of regularly occurring events that create cause-effect relationships. The teacher could show an erosion video, or view local areas of erosion by water prior to the investigation to elicit student questions and to frame the learning in

  • Instructional Supports: This lesson does not provide opportunities for students to make sense of and engage in the phenomenon of erosion. Student questions could be generated at the outset of the lesson, with teacher guided discussion employing questions based on background information listed in the lesson. This type of activity would provide evidence of differentiation of instruction. Teacher could make use of visuals depicting before/after examples of erosion, allowing students to create and discuss descriptive captions. Questions could include, “ How do rivers become muddy?” “How does water flow impact the movement of sediment?” “How will our erosion activity demonstrate landform change?” . This lesson does not provide opportunities for students to make sense of and engage in the phenomenon of erosion. Student questions could be generated at the outset of the lesson, with teacher guided discussion employing questions based on background information listed in the lesson. This type of activity would provide evidence of differentiation of instruction. Teacher could make use of visuals depicting before/after examples of erosion, allowing students to create and discuss descriptive captions. Questions could include, “ How do rivers become muddy?” “How does water flow impact the movement of sediment?” “How will our erosion activity demonstrate landform change?”

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Student progress is not assessed in this lesson. Tips noted above can be helpful in assessing student prior knowledge, using oral discussions and journal entries as evidence of student learning. In order to assess the PE, the teacher could expand on the general suggestion for discussion (Procedure, No. 6) provided in the lesson. Students could journal reasons for landform changes noted, giving evidence for their explanations. If students were able to use measurements (see Practice Tip above), a data sheet would provide an opportunity for formal assessment.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is no technological interactivity component included in this resource.