Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition

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Objective

SWBAT differentiate between weathering, erosion, and deposition, and determine how they are related.

Big Idea

Students investigate weathering and erosion with hands on activities.

Rationale and Preparation

The Why Behind Teaching This 

Unit 5 covers standards relating to Earth's Systems.  It covers Standard 5-ESS2-1: Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.  Students will be learning the difference between each of the systems, and ways that each of the systems interact to help make Earth what it is today.  The other standard covered is Standard 5-ESS2-2: Describe and graph the amounts and percentages of water and fresh water in various reservoirs to provide evidence about the distribution of water on Earth. 

Modeling will be an important component of this unit.  Students will be modeling layers of Earth, the water cycle, land forms, and more.  The unit begins with an overview of all the systems, then each system is taught in isolation.  As each new system is covered, how it depends on or interacts with the previous systems will be addressed.  In addition to the end of unit assessment, there will also be a culminating activity where groups build a model to demonstrate how 2 of the systems interact.  Connections to several previously covered standards will also be made throughout this unit.

This specific lesson covers standard 5-ESS2-1 by describing three processes that change the geosphere.  The processes of weathering, erosion, and deposition are impacted by factors of the other systems such as water and wind.  At the conclusion of the unit, students will be asked to make these connections to create a model of how systems interact.  These may be some of the interactions that students choose.  

Lesson Goal:

The goal of today's lesson is for students to be able to differentiate between weathering, erosion, and deposition and identify how each changes the surface of the Earth. 

Success Criteria: 

Students will demonstrate success on this lesson goal by correctly answering the questions on the exit ticket. 

Preparing For The Lesson:

Warm Up:

No materials are needed for this section as it is introducing the chant and motions that go with it. 

Guided Practice:

Explore:

  • A copy of the Weathering and Erosion Lab Sheet for each group.  
  • A tray with the following materials:
    • an Easter egg 
    • a can with a lid that is about 1/4 filled with water 
    • a rock (I use softer rocks like limestone, a mint can be used as well to model what happens to a rock). 
    • a paper towel
    • a small cup with a little vinegar in it
    • a dropper
    • a magnifying glass 
    • a piece of white rock like is used for driveways 
    • three halves of two liter bottles, one filled with soil, one filled with sand, and the other filled with sod. 
    • three small cups with holes in the sides and string through the holes
    • 3 wood blocks 
    • a measuring cup 
    • A large measuring cup of water.

Wrap Up:  

Warm Up

10 minutes

Kinesthetic Weathering, Erosion, Deposition 

I begin today's lesson by getting the students up and moving.  I model the movements that I have created to match weathering, erosion, and deposition.  I pound my fists together to represent weathering, then sway my arms back and forth to represent erosion, and then squat down to represent deposition.  As I do these motion I am saying "Weathering...Erosion..Deposition".  You can see this chant in the video of kinesthetic vocabulary activity.  I do this several times like a chant with motions to it and then ask the students to join in.  We do it many times so that it gets stuck in their heads.  

I have not taught the new vocabulary yet, although we did discuss weathering in the lesson on the rock cycle, and it they should have learned about these processes in 4th grade. Since I have not yet taught these concepts, I ask students to give me some ideas on what they think each term means just by the actions in the chant.  One student tells me he believes erosion is washing away and erosion is smashing and another student says erosion is moving and weathering is breaking.  Both mean about the same so I tell them they are both correct.    

Why Begin The Lesson With This Activity 

By putting motions with a chant, students are more likely to remember what the three vocabulary terms mean.  The chant will be stuck in their head as we progress through the lesson.  Each time during the lesson that I ask a question about weathering, erosion, or deposition, I can refer back to the chant and do the motions to trigger their memory.  By making it simple, only three words, students are able to easily remember it and say it to themselves during testing.  

Guided Practice

10 minutes

Defining the New Vocabulary 

I provide each student with a copy of the Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition Foldable that has been copied front to back and precut to save time.  The foldable has a picture on the front to help them remember each term.  The definitions are printed on the inside with a blank side on the other inside panel.  On the blank side, we draw pictures of how land forms change due to each process.  I show pictures from the Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition PowerPoint and discuss each one.  Students can select which pictures they want to draw in their foldable.  I do not let them begin drawing until after I talk about all of them, then I give them a couple of minutes to draw what they would like.  I let them choose what picture to draw to represent each term because it allows them to take ownership in the product.  By choosing something that stands out to them, they are more likely to remember the term and process that goes with it.  It also allows us to review the different choices later in the year and reminds us that erosion is a process that happens in a variety of ways, as is weathering.  

                                      

 

Explore

30 minutes

Preparing for the Investigation  

After going over each term and seeing some examples of how weathering, erosion, and deposition change the Earth's appearance, it is time for some hands on examples.  I begin by explaining that there are several materials that we will be using for this activity and that I will be leading the activities so they should focus attention on my directions.  I remind students that I should not see any materials off the tray or being played with that are not being used at that time.  

This is a teacher led activity instead of having them do it on their own because there are so many activities taking place and each involves a lot of materials.  If they work at their own pace in small groups, I cannot keep an eye on every group as well as I can when leading them.  I know exactly what each group should be doing when I lead.   

I have trays of materials already prepared for each group.  Each tray contains the following:

  • an Easter egg 
  • a can with a lid that is about 1/4 filled with water 
  • a rock (I use softer rocks like limestone, a mint can be used as well to model what happens to a rock). 
  • a paper towel
  • a small cup with a little vinegar in it
  • a dropper
  • a magnifying glass 
  • a piece of white rock like is used for driveways 
  • three halves of water bottles, one filled with soil, one filled with sand, and the other filled with sod. 
  • three small cups with holes in the sides and string through the holes
  • 3 wood blocks 
  • a measuring cup 
  • A large measuring cup of water.

  

I put a copy of the Weathering and Erosion Lab Sheet on the overhead and pass out a copy to each group to use.  As I pass out the lab sheet, I call on one person from each group as the materials manager, and they go get their tray of materials from the table.  Having a materials manager helps eliminate arguing over who is responsible for that task.  It also helps control the number of students up out of their seats at one time.  

Investigating Weathering 

We begin with the egg activity.  I instruct groups to submerge their egg completely in the water and close it so that it fills completely with water.  I give them time to draw what it looks like and then have them bring the egg over to the freezer.  If you do not have a freezer in your room, you could put them in a freezer later in the day.  They will make their next observation the following day and describe what happens. 

The next activity models weathering caused by water.  I have students get their rock that is chalky (you can use chalk or candy if you do not have rocks like this) and draw their before picture.  I have them add it to the can of water and add the lid.  I then give them a few minutes to shake the can vigorously.  While they are shaking, I discuss how this is modeling water (waves) and other objects (can sides) hitting a rock causing it to weather.  After a few minutes, I have them remove the rock, pour the liquid through a funnel lined with paper towel, observe the change, and draw the after picture.  I have them pour the water through a paper towel to catch any tiny pieces that may have broken.  One change they may see is that the rock is smoother, but some find tiny pieces in the water which tells them why it is smoother...because small pieces have broken off.  Students tend to say the rock is cleaner from the water which is not the change I want them pointing out so I try to make sure they see something else.  

                                            

The last activity for weathering is using an acid to weather a rock.  Students take out their paper towel and place the white rock on it.  The white rock I use is purchased in bags from Home Depot.  There has to be some limestone in the rock for this activity to work.  Test the rocks you get before doing it with the students.  The more limestone in the rock (or pure limestone) the more obvious it will be.  Students draw a picture of what the rock looks like before adding the acid.  Students add a few drops of vinegar (an acid) to the rock and observe.  They see bubbles forming on the rock and we discuss what this means is happening.  You can see in the video of weathering from acid that this rock reacts well, but some are less pronounced which is why they have a hand lens.  Students tell me that the acid is causing a reaction and is eating away at the rock. We discuss how this forms caves and sink holes. I have them draw the after picture for what they observed. 

Investigating Erosion 

On the back side of the lab sheet is the Investigating Erosion activity.  Each group has half a two liter bottle that has already been filled with sand, soil, and sod.  To set up the activity, the groups hang a cup from the mouth of the bottle and place a wood block under the base end of the bottle.  Once all groups have their bottles set up on an incline, they pour 1 cup of water in each container at the base end.  They observe erosion take place and then diagram what the water in the small cup hanging looks like.  They repeat for the other two bottles.  I circulate while groups complete the activity to ask questions and check for understanding on what they are diagramming.  

  

Wrap Up

30 minutes

Exit Ticket 

I have the materials manager dump the water from the small cups used in the erosion investigation and then return the tray of materials to the table.  As they do this, I pass out an Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition Exit Ticket to each student.  I do not allow them to use their notebooks or any other resource to complete the exit ticket.  I am using the exit ticket to assess understanding of weathering, erosion, and deposition, and how each changes the surface of the Earth.  Although there are only two questions, I am able to assess understanding of all concepts.  The second question requires students to apply the entire process to the formation of a delta.  To get this correct, students will have to describe how rocks are weathered by wind or water and then the sediments are carried downstream by the river through the process of erosion and finally, deposited at the mouth of the river to create a new piece of land called a delta. In order to get this correct, students would have to have a good understanding of each process and how they work together.   

I check exit tickets later and separate them into two piles: those who got them both correct and those who missed one.  I had 16 students that demonstrated proficiency, and 4 that need reteaching.  The students who need reteaching will work with me in small group for 15 minutes in the morning while announcements are on.  I will review the vocabulary and have them do the chant and movements that go with the vocabulary daily.  I also give examples of each occurring and as I do this, I will have them write on a whiteboard whether it is an example of weathering, erosion, or deposition.