Company Plans to Slow or Stop Erosion

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SWBAT make a diagram to show how to slow or stop erosion on a slope. In the net lesson, they will use their diagrams to build and test their erosion solution model.

Big Idea

Sometimes erosion can be detrimental, in this lesson Erosion Companies design erosion solution diagrams to slow or stop erosion in Rock Away Town.

NGSS Connections and Class Preparation

30 minutes

NGSS Standards

2-ESS2-1.      Compare multiple solutions designed to slow or prevent wind or water from changing the shape of the land

Teams use diagrams to plan 2 strategies for slowing or stopping erosion on a slope. In the next lesson students build their models and test their solutions.

 Science Practices

- Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions  (SP 6)

Teams plan and design 2 possible solutions for erosion and then view the diagrams of other teams.

Cross-cutting Concepts - Appendix G

- Cause and Effect (XC 2)

Teams design solutions that could stop or slow down the cause of erosion on a 'barren hillside'. They test their designs in the next lesson to discover if their designs have the intended effect.

Lesson Preparation

erosion diagram template

material list

Company procedures

lay out materials teams could use in their erosion slow down models; possible items:

            rocks        popsicle sticks        fabric         bark multch

            gravel       large legos

set up erosion control demonstration

collect erosion model containers

6 zip lock baggies

bag of soil

uniform measuring device to scoop soil into baggies


diagram paper; 2/ team (I would probably run off more in case students need to redo something)

container / team; to hold materials

container for erosion model; 1 / team

zip lock baggie; 1 / team

Question for the Day and Setting the Stage

10 minutes

Science time starts with a question, usually written on the board. I have established this routine with the kiddos to keep transition time short and effective and redirect student's attention back to content while allowing time for focused peer interaction.

Question for the Day: What ideas do you want to share with your team to slow or stop erosion from a slope or hill?

Next to the question I have a diagram of the erosion model that I will show the students later in the lesson. I have it covered so that students will focus on the question.

I also prompted teams to think about what they learned in their webquest.

I want the teams to begin this conversation because today they will plan their 'slow down or stop erosion' model and lab.

After a couple of moments, I signal students' attention, "I heard some great ideas on how your company may address the problem of erosion happening in Rock Away Town."

Rock Away Town Power Point Slides 1-3

I project a power point of Rock Away Town and explain the situation why the Rock Away Town Council is looking to hire a company to help with its erosion problem.

"Here is a map of Rock Away Town. You can see they live in a small valley surrounded by foothills. Recently a forest fire burned most of the trees on the surrounding hills. This is where the erosion is happening. There have been mudslides after it rains and the mud ends up in peoples back yards or on the streets."

The students asked me if this is real. I explain that I made up the scenario, but this could really happen and that they are doing the work of engineers, hydrologists and geologists. (I found out later there is a town called Rock Away Town in California and it has an erosion problem!)

Next I show students the erosion table and hill model that they will use next week when building their erosion solution.

"I have made a model to show you what it looks like when there is a mud slide. What do you notice about the water that I caught in the basin? What does the hill look like now?"

This erosion model establishes the control, to compare against team's erosion solutions.

With student input, observations are noted, next to the diagram I drew on the board, about the water and slope before and after water was poured over the soil.

"Your company will present your erosion solution for Rock Away Town, using a model. Since we only want to explore how to stop or slow the erosion on the hillsides, each team will receive a similar hill model, which will be tested on the same slope."

The only changes that will happen is what you plan to do to the hill model to slow or stop erosion. That is the variable. Every other part of the model will stay the same so all companies are testing for the same thing, slowing or stopping erosion on the same model."

"How will you know if your solved the erosion problem? What will the water look like?"

"Right, clear water. Once your company has clear water flowing then, you may want to see if you can keep water from running off the slope."

"Your company's job is to design a way to keep the soil from eroding off the hills and possibly stopping or slowing the water run-off."

Criteria for Erosion Solution Power Point Slide 4

The following is projected:

Criteria for Erosion Model

1. Clear water run-off

2. Slow or stop water run-off

"Alright please move to your company tables, for the next set of directions." I post a team seating map, so transitions from the rug to tables are smooth.

Erosion Slow Down Strategies - Overview

5 minutes

"Companies today you will plan 2 strategies that could help slow or stop erosion. You will make a diagram for each of your ideas, list the materials you will need and steps you will need to follow to make your model."

I have placed some materials out to help teams to think about what they could use in their models.

I point to the table with materials, "These are some materials you could use to build your erosion model. If you have other ideas about what you want to use, that is o.k., be sure to write them on your materials list."

"You will have a chance to handle the materials after the directions have been given."

"After both of your company's diagrams, materials and steps have been checked, by the town planning commission (that would be me), you will discuss with your company which model you will want to build and test first."

I break down the task into steps to help my kiddos work through this activity. I project the following on the board:

Power Point Slides 5 and 6

1. With your company brainstorm two possible solutions

2. Two members to work on each solution diagram and materials list. These will be design teams A and B.

3. Design team tasks: make a diagram

                                 writer a materials list

                                 write the steps to build your model

4. Share your design with the 'Town Commissioner'.

5. Check in with your other company design team to decide which model you will build first.

Next time I do this lesson, during a language arts block companies will review both designs and discuss which one should be the one to be tested. Students will also have the option to integrate ideas from both designs to create a 3rd design. See reflection in next lesson.



Planning Time

40 minutes

I pass out the diagram paper, material list, and procedure form. I circulate  to answer questions and to assist with group dynamics. Students are reminded to label all the parts of their diagram. 

Students collaborate on their designs, and then list their materials and procedures. I remind students that they can look over the materials set up on the back table, while working on their design plans.

When the design teams share their plans with me, I check that they can:

- explain how their model will slow erosion

- the materials listed match their diagram

- the procedure is written in a logical sequence.

I direct the design teams to share their diagram with the other members in their company.

I want them to practice articulating how the different parts of the design work to help slow or stop erosion. 

Early finishers work on a company logo sign to post by their model for next week.

Gallery Walk

10 minutes

For the last 7 minutes I direct teams to display their diagrams and material lists on their desks,  choose 2 team members for gallery walk while the other 2 members stay with the diagrams to explain them to gallery walkers. After about 3 minutes, team members switch.

I post the diagrams so students can review them through out the week. I collect the material and procedure lists.

I check if there are other materials I will need to get for the erosion model lab or if I need to set aside time for some teams to prepare parts of their model ahead of time.

I ask what went well when working in the groups and what was a challenge. I will address these concerns when teams meet again.