Science Activities About Water Erosion

Interactive activities to visualize water erosion.

Environmental issues are becoming a hot topic of discussion in elementary schools. More teachers and schools are implementing methods to conserve our environment. Water erosion is a topic that teachers can expand on through scientific activities and experiments. Teachers can engage students with water-erosion lessons that provide hands-on exploration.

Clay Experiment

The teacher needs to prepare a clay mound in a tray or pan. Small rocks, counters and pennies can be pushed into the top of the clay. It is best to perform the experiment outside to avoid mess. The teacher can then spray the clay mound with water mist to show how the clay washes away. The rocks, counters and pennies will create summits out of the clay. The students can conclude the soft surface of clay is less durable than harder surfaces in terms of water erosion. This allows students to critically evaluate other ways in which water erosion can occur.

Simulated Beach Erosion

To show the effects of water erosion on our beaches, a simulated beach can be made. The teacher can use a large, enclosed tray to create a small-scale beach. On one side of the tray, the teacher can make a small sandy beach. The teacher can place pebbles and stones in the sand. Add water to the other side of the tray to complete the beach. Salt water can be used in place of fresh water to ensure a more authentic version of the activity. The teacher can then move the tray to create wave-like motions in the water. Students record their observations and draw conclusions on the water erosion of beaches.

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Grand Canyon Interactive Activity

Using the Grand Canyon as a visual example of water erosion allows students to see the full extent of this environmental issue. The rock layers of the Grand Canyon can be discussed prior to this activity, showing the extent of the erosion that has occurred over the years. Students will first use an interactive map of Arizona on the internet, and zoom in on the Grand Canyon to find its location. The students then trace the Colorado River, seeing where it runs through the canyon. Then they watch the video “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets,” and afterward complete National Geographic’s “Grand Canyon Brainteaser” to demonstrate what they learned. The teacher can have students create a poster to solidify what they learned about the Grand Canyon.