Water Erosion

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SWBAT identify and explain soil erosion is caused by water.

Big Idea

Moving water causes soil erosion.

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."  In this lesson, students will learn about water erosion. They learn that this event occur slowly and they can effect Earth's Resources. It is important that students learn that erosion moves things along  and that there can be wind, water, and ice erosion. This lesson focuses on water erosion and how it causes soil to erode. Student need to understand that too much water can cause soil erosion. Nutrients can be washed away from the soil and plants won't grow. In this lesson, students collaborate in groups to observe the effect water has on soil. I teach water erosion before wind and glacier because my students are more familiar with water erosion.

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 will learn the effect that water erosion have on the soil through creating an interactive model. 

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 will communicate with each other about how soil erosion is caused by water.

Prior Knowledge:

Students have prior knowledge about erosion and weathering. They know that erosion can move the land through a slow process and weathering can break apart the land.

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 worn during 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.




10 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 identify and explain water erosion." 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 by clapping.  I encourage students to give each other praise to boost their self-esteem. Students are reminded of the safety rules, group rules, and scientific method. Also, I discuss the checklist to assist with completing and staying on task during the assignment. I remind the students to make sure that they stay on task. Also, it is important that they understand that scientists must follow safety rules in order to stay out of danger.


While students sit at their desks, they watch a soil erosion video. The video helps my auditory and visual learners retaining taught content.  In this video, students learn that water can cause soil erosion. This video helps to engage students in the investigation. 

Stand and Deliver

After the video, I pose the following questions: What is water erosion? What causes soil erosion? Why is it important to conserve the soil? These questions are asked to check for students understanding. In the video, it discussed that wind, water, and human causes erosion. I inform the students that today our experiment focuses on water erosion. 


25 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.  

While students are sitting at their groups' tables, they assign their groups' roles such as: a person who records, manager, and reporter. I permit the students to select their own roles so they can select their strengths and weaknesses.  This also boosts students' self esteem and encourages them to make academic improvements. I select the leader who demonstrates leadership qualities.  The students are provided group labels and clothes pin clips. They are encouraged to wear their labels. I provide the students with the group labels  to help them identify their roles. Also, it helps promote a positive classroom environment with little disruption.

The groups are provided with their lab sheet, a disposable aluminum baking tray, spray bottle with water, soil, and rocks. Each table is covered with newspaper. 

I inform the groups that I am going to walk them through the investigation. They are asked to observe and ask questions about the items in front of them. They are provided with a science question stem handout to assist with developing questions. 

The students are instructed to observe me. I fill the tray with soil, patting the soil down firmly. Then I place some rocks firmly in the soil. I model for the students to make sure that they understand what to do before I permit them to start the investigation.

Then I direct the students to fill the tray with soil, patting the soil down firmly. Then they are instructed to place some rocks in the soil so that they cannot move freely. 

Next,  the groups are instructed to place the narrow side of the tray filled with soil and rocks on a book. The tray should be at a slant. I show the groups what to do. I inform them that the leader should spray 3 squirt of water on the soil, starting at the highest part of the tray, so the water can run down the soil.

I pose the following questions: Do you notice any changes?  Did the soil or rocks move out of position?  Then I tell the leader of the groups to take off the top of the spray bottle to pour a larger amount of water at the highest part of the tray.  I demonstrate the amount of water for the groups to pour on the soil.  I demonstrate for the groups to make sure that they continue to stay on task. Again, I pose the questions: Do you notice any changes?  Did the soil or rocks move out of position?  Do you notice signs of erosion?

Groups are invited to draw conclusions about the investigation. 

Water Erosion-Lab Sheet-Student Work

Water Erosion Video

Water Erosion- Set-Up


15 minutes

While groups are sitting at their tables, each share their scientific findings from the experiment. Groups discuss what happens to soil as it comes in contact with water. As I listen to the groups' conclusions, I am listening to here if students understand the following: water can erode the soil and heavy water or rain can effect the soil more quickly compared to light water or rain. 

Science Journal

In students' journal, they are asked to compose an answer to the following question? What effect does water have on soil? As I read the journals, I am making sure that students understand that water erosion can move sediments along and erode the land or soil. 

Water Erosion-Exit Ticket-Student Work