Lesson 4A: Erosion and Deposition

Estimated Time: One forty-five minute class period

Indicator(s): Core Learning Goal 1

1.2.3 The student will formulate a working hypothesis.

1.2.7 The student will use relationships discovered in the lab to explain phenomena observed outside the laboratory.

1.5.2 The student will explain scientific concepts and processes through drawing, writing, and/or oral communication.

Indicator(s): Core Learning Goal 2

2.2.2. The student will explain the role of natural forces in the earth.

At least — retention of an atmosphere, an agent of erosion and deposition, tides and deep ocean currents

2.4.4 The student will apply the law of conservation to the processes that affect rocks and minerals.

2.5.2. The student will analyze the effects of natural cycles on human activity.

At least — weathering, erosion and deposition, agriculture, aquaculture

Student Outcome(s):

  1. The student will be able to analyze agents of erosion and deposition by examining the features formed and the processes that influenced their formation.
  2. The student will be able to describe the human impact on the environment by constructing a model.

Brief Description:

In this lesson we will examine the different agents of erosion and deposition. We will explore the features that are formed and the processes that influence their formation. The impact of humans on the environment will be explored.

Background knowledge / teacher notes:

After weathering, fragments of soil are carried away. Erosion is the process of transporting fragments produced by weathering. Agents of erosion include wind, waves, gravity, glaciers, rivers and streams. Long-term erosion can reshape the landscape forming features that can be seen on topographic maps. Pikes Peak, the Appalachian Mountains, and mesas are all land features that have been modified by weathering and erosion.


Lesson Description:


  • Give the students a small amount of sand, several small rocks, a (dissecting) tray, and a source of water. Challenge them to transport the sand and rocks from one end of the container to the other using as many different methods as they can. Students should record their methods in their journal and list the methods on the board. (blowing, pushing, running water, tipping the pan...)
  • Ask students to identify the process they are demonstrating.

Vocabulary: features.


Students will read about agents of erosion and identify the type of agents they used in the lab. Agents of erosion include gravity, wind, glaciers, and water.

GT Connection: Explore rapid mass movements (rockfall, landslide, mudflow) and slow mass movements (soilfluction, slumping and creep).

Education Element:


Sediment transport images



  • Students will draw pictures illustrating the effect each agent of erosion has on the land and how humans have attempted to reduce the effects of erosion.

Career Connection: Discuss careers in this field — soil conservationist, hydrologist, and agronomist.


Students will explore land features formed by erosion and deposition and the human impact on the environment.

  • Prior to class, partially fill a tray with a mixture of small rocks and damp diatomaceous earth. Make sure it is sloped. Let dry and harden.
  • Place one end of the tray on blocks.
  • Use a large beaker and straw or plastic tubing to form a siphon/river. Start the siphon and run a gentle stream of water over the surface until a small stream is formed.

Social Studies Connection: Discuss how the early settlers used water as their major method of transporting materials.

  • Using houses and hotels (such as those from Monopoly) have students build farms, towns and factories.
  • Illustrate fertilization by sprinkling Kool Aid over the farms.
  • Continue the stream.
  • Give the students a Q-tip dipped in Kool Aid to simulate waste particles from the factory. They have to decide what to do with the waste.
  • Continue the stream.
  • Observe the effects of erosion and deposition.

Journal Write:

Make a drawing of your observations.

  1. How did the color of the water change over time? What caused these changes?
  2. Have these changes occur in the Chesapeake Bay?
  3. How has man impacted the health of the Chesapeake Bay?
  4. Identify which landforms were the results of erosion and which were formed from deposition.
  5. What happened to the farms, towns and factories over time?
  6. What events, simulated in this model, occur in nature?

Education Element:


Mississippi River delta sedimentation



Yukon delta sedimentation http://disc.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/geomorphology/GEO_5/GEO_PLATE_D-9.shtml



Biogeochemical cycles



Teacher will provide pictures of various landforms (valleys, plateau, mesa, Chesapeake Bay, plains, river deltas...). Students will identify the processes responsible for the formation of each landform.

Journal Write: Create a systems diagram showing the processes responsible for the formation of each of the above landform. Include the effect of human impact in your diagram (biosphere connection).


Dissecting tray

Diatomaceous earth


Small rocks


Pictures of landforms: mesa, butte, plains, and valleys, etc.


Earth /Space Science Textbook