Sand Dune Erosion in a Box

Carolina Biological Supply Company
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Curriculum , Experiment/Lab Activity , Activity
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 is an erosion lesson featuring sand dunes and what happens to them in the wind.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 3
  • Grade 2
Access Restrictions

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

Performance Expectations

2-ESS2-1 Compare multiple solutions designed to slow or prevent wind or water from changing the shape of the land.

Clarification Statement: Examples of solutions could include different designs of dikes and windbreaks to hold back wind and water, and different designs for using shrubs, grass, and trees to hold back the land.

Assessment Boundary: none

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
You can extend this initial lesson idea by having students come up with solutions on how to prevent the wind erosion on the sand dunes. Suggestions are provided in the lesson plan.

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
Make sure to show students actual pictures of sand dunes before beginning the activity. Teachers need to provide opportunities for students to manipulate the materials then develop and test new ways to see and track erosion.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Using the extension activities further supports the Disciplinary Core Idea that wind can change the land.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Follow up with resources such as pictures, or on-line video of erosion over time in order to reinforce the Crosscutting Concept of Stability and Change.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
It is best to ask students questions throughout the activity in order for them to describe the phenomena. What do you see happening? Why does the happen? What can be done to prevent that from happening?

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This is a great lesson idea to help students understand the idea of erosion. For it to fully align to NGSS, the teacher must extend the lesson and have students try to come up with solutions on how to prevent so much erosion.

  • Instructional Supports: The activity allows students to engage in a simulation of an authentic phenomena through a fun investigation. It is imperative to note that this activity requires that students have a clear understanding of the activity's instructions. Teachers should be sure to include the activity's extensions and follow-up questions as well as partner or group discussions to further support students comparing multiple solutions to slow or prevent erosion.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: This activity does not have anything on monitoring student progress. It is up to the teacher to make sure to ask questions throughout so students understand the phenomena.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is no technological component to this resource