Glaciers, Water, and Wind, Oh My!

Teresa Ellis, Malinda Schaefer Zarske, Janet Yowell
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Demonstration , 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.


Average Rating

3 (1 reviews)

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Most Recent Review

5 Lots of fun!!!

I used this lab myself, with a few modifications. I used it in a 4th grade classroom and they loved it!!!!! They kept asking to do more things like this. Plus it really helped them make the connection with the material.


This hands-on activity allows students to explore five earth forces that may cause erosion as they model, observe, and record the effects of erosion on earth surfaces. Stations include demonstrations of chemical, wind, water, ice and heat forces as they affect weathering.

Intended Audience

- none -
Educational Level
  • 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 is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students would work in small groups as they use demonstration materials. A note of caution: The station that requires the use of a burner to demonstrate how heat affects size of marbles could be eliminated or used as a teacher-modeled activity. Goggles could be used in the Chemical Erosion station as appropriate with the weak acid or removed completely as chemical erosion is not assessed at the upper elementary level. Teachers should explicitly explore the differences between weathering and erosion with their students at the start of the lesson, eliciting student ideas.

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
Students could extend this hands-on activity to include measurements. They could increase the elevation of their soil mountain, volume of water at water erosion station, amount of "wind" created by the fan, and use a sheet of ice in the stream table to increase amount of ice at glacier station. They could record observational differences and measure amounts of sediment . ELL students could illustrate variability in chart form and/or collect sediment, weight sample, and graph weight results.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students could observe types of erosion noted on school grounds, collecting data in the form of a checklist. Students could note differences after rain or snowfall, measuring rain/snowfall amounts, then noting changes in types of soil and sediment movement.

Crosscutting Concepts

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

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students could illustrate or photograph each station, to create a before/after display, noting changes that occurred due to heat, water, wind, ice, or chemical effects.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Although measurement is not listed as a part of the lesson, it can easily be included and implemented. This demonstration allows students to observe the effects of weathering on erosion.

  • Instructional Supports: The worksheet gives students an opportunity to reflect on their observations and share conclusions. It can be adjusted to better address cause and effect relationships and fit student accessibility needs.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Teacher may use student worksheet to evaluate student content knowledge of weathering and its effects. Formative assessment would occur as students interacted and participated in activities at stations. Students could also discuss their findings and reflect on what they learned about the ways weathering creates environmental changes.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -