6th Grade

Erosion with Clay, 6th Grade

As a challenge, I taught two 6th Grade science classes through art for 4 periods over a number of weeks so to not interfere with their normal routines. In their science course the students had just started a unit on water. In this lesson, we looked at tributaries and discussed the impact of erosion and runoff. To give them a physical experiment and a manipulative example, we placed clay slabs in slanted paint trays and in groups of two, they students used clay tools to carve their own tributaries. The students shaped their land as they saw fit and added “foliage” with pipe cleaners. Some added rocks to physically block the paths and some added the rocks to the edge to mark erosion levels. We placed one color sand on the “land” and at the top of the slope. Then we ran a cup full of water and vinegar to erode the clay body. Students would carefully pour the vinegar water back in the cup, add a new color of sand, and then repeat the process. With each run, the students wrote down observations. Everyone presented their findings and projects at the end.

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