Using Skittles to Learn about Weathering and Erosion

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SWBAT distinguish between erosion and weathering utilizing skittles.

Big Idea

How does erosion and weathering affect the land?

Setting the Stage

Next Generation Science Standards:

2.ESS1 addresses "using information from several sources to provide evidence that Earth events can occur quickly or slowly."  This lesson helps students learn about erosion and weathering through the use of a skittle experiment. Students learn weathering and erosion are two different processes but they can occur at the same time due to water, wind, and air. Weathering and erosion gradually change the earth. 

Science and Engineering Practice: 

SP 2 addresses using and developing models (i.e., diagram, drawing, physical replica, diorama, dramatization, or storyboard) that represent concrete events or design solutions. In this lesson, students use skittles which represents rocks and the water represents acid rain. The pan represents the earth.

SP 8 addresses obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in K–2. Students communicate information with others in oral and written form to discuss scientific ideas.  In this lesson, groups communicate about weathering and erosion.

Prior Knowledge:

Students have prior knowledge about erosion and weathering.They understand that these processes can move the land through a slow process.

Junior Scientists:

In my class, the students are called Junior Scientists. They wear lab jackets that they created early in the school year to be wornduring their experiments. I call them junior scientists to encourage them to major in Science and Math related careers. I want them to develop a love for Science and Math. Also, we sing "It Is Science Time" before each lesson



15 minutes

At their desks, students sing a song that the class sings at the opening of each science lesson.  This song motivates and engages my Junior Scientists at the beginning of each science lesson. During science lessons, I call my students scientists to empower students and make them dreamers and doers.

“I can” statement

I call on a student to read our "I Can" statement for the day. While using an over-sized microphone, a scientist says, "I can distinguish between weathering and erosion through the skittle activity." The "I Can" statement helps students take ownership of the lesson as they put standards into context. The other students praise the student that reads the "I Can" statement with a round of applause.  I encourage students to give each other praise to boost self-esteem.

Popcorn- Vocabulary Review (weathering, erosion, physical weathering and mechanical weathering, deposition)

I randomly pass out cards with vocabulary terms to students. I say the definition and the student with the term stands up. This is done so students can review taught terms. Also, it helps to motivate and excite my hands-on learners. My visuals learners are engaged because they observe the words and terms on the cards.





30 minutes

My students proceed to their group tables when I say "We Are on the Move" and they stand and sing, "We Are On The Move." This routine helps my students to move to their table with very little distraction. This also helps my auditory learners who enjoy singing as well as my kinesthetic children that enjoy moving.  

When students get to their tables, they begin to assign their roles: a person to lead, record, measure, and report. I assign the leader which is one of my advanced students. Leadership qualities are present. They put on their group labels with a clothes pin to ensure that I know each child's role.  Students are grouped by abilities to support students’ learning. I want all my students to take ownership of their learning, so assigning roles permit students to develop confidence in their roles as well as use their strengths to accomplish their group's goals.  All hands must be on deck.  The groups are reminded of the group rules. The group rules are located at their table so they can reference to them.

Students are asked to observe and ask questions about the the materials located at their table: colored pencils or crayons, a cup of water, a water dropper, 1 skittles, and a tin pan.  They are to develop questions that they may have on the experiment.

Students then develop a hypothesis about what effect the water is going to have on the skittles. Then I inform the students that they are going to use the water dropper to squeeze 10 drops of water onto the skittle. They should hold the water dropper about 6 inches from the candy. I demonstrate what it should look like. They are encouraged to record their results on the visual table (draw what it looks like in the box below using colored pencils or crayons that match your skittles). They also informed to record their results in the written table. They should describe what is happening. 

When they are concluded with the "Do the Test" section, they are advised to answer the question in the "Draw Conclusion" section.

 Skittles- Lab Sheet-Student Work

Skittle Picture





15 minutes

While students are at the groups' tables, as a class, we discuss the questions in the "Draw Conclusions" section. The students should respond the following to the questions. 

What did the water represent? The water represented rain which caused weathering and erosion.

What did the skittle represent? The skittle represented a rock.

When did weathering occur? Weathering occurred when water hit the skittle (rock) and the shell began to break away.

What kind of erosion happened? Water erosion happened. The rain hit the rock and the color and fragment of the rock began to move.

What did the pan represent?  The pan represented the earth.

The questions are to asked to make sure that students made a connection between weathering and erosion as they used skittles for their investigation. If the students struggle with understanding erosion or weathering, I bring in a cracker. I hit the cracker with my hand. I inform them that is weathering. Weathering break things a part. Then I blow towards the cracker. The cracker crumbs move and this is erosion. Erosion moves things along.