Middle school Earth and space science - NGSS
Make science come alive in your classroom with this free hands-on investigative activity aligned to middle school NGSS standards.
Activity: how does weathering affect natural landscapes over time?
Imagine you are in the high desert, standing under a sandstone arch. You look up and take note of the arch's rough texture and interesting shape. You can’t help but wonder, “How did this beautiful structure form?”
Sandstone arches, along with many other amazing land formations, formed as a result of weathering. In this activity, students will learn about different types of mechanical and chemical weathering. Students will then use this knowledge to construct explanations for how some of Earth’s most fascinating landscapes came to be.
This activity is designed to be completed in two 45-minute class periods, with additional time required for follow-up creative projects. The activity consists of the following parts:
- Setting the stage—Students read and demonstrate understanding of mechanical and chemical weathering. (15 minutes)
- Investigation (Part 1)—Students construct an explanation for how weathering likely led to the formation of an iconic landform. (15 minutes)
- Investigation (Part 2)—Students create models by drawing their landform at three stages of its development, showing how it likely changed over time. Students then update their models based on research-backed explanations for how each landform formed. (15 minutes)
- Let's get creative!—Students create a poster about their landform, then share it with their classmates. (45 minutes)
- Keep creating!—Students can choose from additional project ideas. Each project encourages students to combine scientific knowledge with creativity to produce something new.
NGSS performance expectations
MS-ESS2-2. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.
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Want to join the conversation?
- how is it possible for water to wear away rock?(6 votes)
- How long does it take for water to move from places like a dessert all the way to the ocean or other bodies of water?(2 votes)
- why do these things happen?(2 votes)
- Can metal be weathered away?(2 votes)
- Well... yes and no. If a metal is not rusted (or it does not contain Iron oxide), it will not weather away. But if it is rusted (contains iron oxide), it will slowly chip and peel away.(1 vote)
- doesnt limestone reduce the effect of acid rain in bodies of water(3 votes)