Soil Erosion Activities

Instructor: Jennifer Smith

Jenn has been an educator for 10 years. She has a master's degree in Teacher Leadership and a bachelors degree in Elementary Education and English Language Acquisition.

Erosion is one of the amazing things that happen in nature and to the soil. These exciting, hands-on soil erosion activities demonstrate the major types of erosion that can occur throughout the Earth.

Soil Erosion Activities

Erosion happens in all natural environments, forming valleys and gullies crucial to ecosystems. But erosion can also cause issues due to its stripping away essential topsoil. The following are activities that will demonstrate and help with the comprehension of what erosion is and why it is so important to nature.

Rill, Sheet, and Gully Erosion

These types of erosions all have to do with the slope of the ground and with the amount of water that flows through the area.

Materials

  • sand
  • foil pan or plastic tub
  • 3 Styrofoam cups per group (one with a tiny hole, one with a dime-sized hole, and one with no hole)
  • ruler
  • books (measuring about 3 inches tall)
  • science notebook
  • writing utensils
  • water

Activity

Prep work: Before students start the activity, be sure to have the sand in the pan or tub about 2 inches deep.

In small groups provide each group with the materials.

  1. The students will need to build some landforms in the sand, then draw a diagram in their notebook so they know where the landforms are in their tray.
  2. Students will need to tape the ruler to the back of the tray, the side which will be elevated, and then place the books underneath the tray in order to create a slope.
  3. Students are to tape the cup with the small hole onto the ruler; the small hole cup will demonstrate rill erosion.
  4. Once this is completed, pour about 6 ounces of water into the cup. Students should observe and take notes about what is happening to the sand and the landforms they created.
  5. Once all the water has made its way to the bottom of the slope, students should smooth the sand and then remake the landforms they started with.
  6. Repeat the process but this time with the cup that has the dime-sized hole; this will demonstrate sheet erosion. Again, have students record what has happened, reform the landforms, and smooth the other soil.
  7. Students use the cup with no hole to demonstrate gully erosion. This time the students place the edge of the cup onto the ruler and slowly pour the water into the sand to see what happens.

Water and Wind Erosion

Materials

  • crumbled cookie bits
  • water
  • 2 foil pans or plastic tubs
  • straws

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