The Shape of Things

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SWBAT test and analyze how water can change the shape of rocks.

Big Idea

Students will conduct an experiment using limestone rocks to determine how water changes the rock. They will get to see how erosion and weathering have an impact on rocks over time.

Rock Observation

10 minutes

To begin the lesson, I would like to have student take a walk with me to the playground to explore the rocks on it. We have an area that has had some erosion issues and we make our way to it. Student begin pointing out the different rocks and I ask a few to pick ones they find to bring back to class with us. When we get back to class, we create a list of notes based on their observations on the white board.

Shake it Up Experiment

15 minutes

Students have already read about erosion and weathering. I lead a brief discussion connecting what we noticed with the rocks and what we have previously read about erosion. To help make the observations of the experiment easier, I split them into groups of three. I do this by drawing names from my popsicle stick jar. I try to make the groups as random and academically mixed as possible. 

I ask the class to move to a pod of desks, this will become their work station. Once around their work station, I ask for the class' attention. I ask each group to choose a recorder, a materials specialist, and task manager. Once they have selected each persons role, I ask the materials specialist to get a clear water bottle that is half full, sugar cube, paper towels, and a lined piece of paper for their group. 

The recorder will take the paper and write everyone's names onto it. I explain to the groups that they are going to see the effects of erosion on the rocks and land around it. The group will need to make initial observations and record them. I have them write before, and record what they notice about the sugar cube and the water. Next, they will record their predictions. Finally, they are ready to drop the sugar into the water bottle.

Once they drop it, the task manager will shake the bottle for one minute. They will then record what happened. I have them do this a second time and record again. 

Connecting to Erosion and Weathering

10 minutes

With a portion of the experiment complete, we are ready to have a discussion. I ask the class to just talk about what they observed both before and after they shook their cube. I am ready to prompt the class with a comment connecting what they did to erosion. I ask students to elaborate and add to each others comments. I try to facilitate and not lead the discussion.

Shake and Response

10 minutes

Once we have finished the discussion, about five minutes have gone by. Students will now shake their cubes again for a minute. Each group will need to record their observations. I ask the groups to discuss a final time what happened and how this might be similar to a rock in the Colorado River. 

To conclude, I ask each student to go back to their desk and write a response on what they have learned. They can do this in their science journal or on a separate piece of paper.