Bill Nye Video-Erosion

Disney Corp.
Type Category
Instructional Materials
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.



Bill Nye, "The Science Guy", presents a video describing the effects of weathering (wind, water, ice) on landforms. Bryce Canyon is used as an example of the ways in which freezing water, plant roots, and wind weather the earth's surface creating the means for erosion. Students in video simulate effects of weathering which can be duplicated in a classroom setting. Nye also emphasizes the passage of time in millions of years as he explains the slower erosive effects of certain types of weathering.

Intended Audience

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
PE 4-ESS1-1 could also be included in this resource as the video details evidence of patterns in rock formations bringing changes to landscapes over time. The video is explicit for PE 4-ESS-2, since it repeatedly refers to wind, water, ice, and vegetation as causes for the real-world landscapes represented in the video. The video might be shown in three parts. Students could do a "quick write" of their own definitions of erosion and weathering or create a compare/contrast chart detailing their differences. before they watch the video. Teacher could use their responses as a type of formative assessment to gauge prior knowledge. New vocabulary from the video could be presented on a class chart/whiteboard. Students could work in groups to list meanings/examples of vocabulary, share them with the whole class, and provide the teacher with focus for instruction during the video segments.

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 could be presented with "before" and after" photographs of areas affected by weathering, focusing on landforms depicted in the video, ( Ex. Bryce Canyon, seashore). Class/group/individual journal discussion/explanation of changes and what caused them would allow students to construct an argument. The arguments could be supported with data/realistic models from the video.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students might perform one or more of the investigations highlighted in the video beforehand, constructing explanations and ideas before watching the film as a class to more clearly define, articulate, and observe the earth processes demonstrated. In the video, Bill Nye uses liquid nitrogen to demonstrate the effects of water as it freezes, expands, and cracks rock. To model this phenomena with more student-friendly materials, students could use clay as a stopper for a plastic bottle filled with water and place it in the freezer. As the water freezes and expands the clay will be moved and ice pushes through bottle top. Students could observe and record this example in their notebooks before hypothesizing the effects of freezing they think might occur.

Crosscutting Concepts

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

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
As stated above in "Tips for Including the Practice", students could use the "before and after" activity for including cross-cutting concepts.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This video provides students with real-world evidence of the effects of weathering, with emphasis on wind, water, ice, and vegetation. It explains these effects with hands-on demonstrations and real-world landscape examples. By having students perform investigations presented in the film and watching the film to address misconceptions and refine understanding, the resource addresses all three dimensions of the NGSS.

  • Instructional Supports: - none -

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The video alone does not provide an opportunity for monitoring student progress. The erosion worksheet will allow the teacher to assess student content knowledge, but does not provide modification for English Language Learners, nor does it include a rubric for objective evaluation.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -