States of Matter, Erosion & Weathering Project

Someone really made mother nature mad in Oklahoma this past week. We saw thunder, sleet, snow, ice, rain and hail all in about an hour last Sunday. We had snow on the ground for a few days afterwards. The lads were going crazy being cooped up in the house all day. Finally it warmed up enough to bundle up in our jackets and head outdoors to do some science.

Lord C is learning about states of matter in his science this week and we used the snow on the ground and a little game to develop his understanding a lot more. He took a chunk of snow and discussed how it was a solid. He was able to identify the properties and apply those to other solid objects. We then discussed the other states of matter and how they change from one to the other. It really clicked for him when he saw the snow melt into a liquid and today the snow we collected was gone from the cup and he explained in his own words how it went from liquid to gas. Safe to say he understands this topic fully. Thank you mother nature for the handouts 🙂

For the game that we did all you need is a stick and 2 or more people to play. Use the stick to draw a small circle (big enough for all of you to fit in but fit pretty close to each other). Then draw another circle around the first that allows you to move around a little more. Have everyone start in the smallest circle; the “solid” circle. Tell everyone to try to move around and have them talk about what’s going on. Is it easy? Is it hard? Are you bumping into people? Then ask everyone to take a step backwards into the next circle; the “liquid circle”. Again, have them move around and discuss what’s going on. Finally, ask everyone to go wherever the want. Discuss how much easier and more free they feel. At this point, they are gas. It was a good way to show the states of matter hands on and the lads enjoyed being able to bump into each other and run around the yard.

Our next project was a lot of fun. It got a little messy but that’s the best way to learn. Lord J is covering erosion and weathering in his science. He wasn’t really grasping the ideas with the hand outs that we had so I decided to use the nice day that we had to adventure outside and use the earth to show him instead.

Here’s what you need for this project:
1 cake pan
1-2 straws (depending on how many in your group)

Some mud & dirt from your yard. You can also add rocks, leaves, sticks whatever you want

something to sprinkler water onto the dirt (We used an old water jug and made holes in the lid, make sure you have about 1/2 gallon worth of water)

a chunk of ice

Something to prop up the cake pan about 1-3 inches (we used an old piece of drift wood we found in the yard)

Prep:
Have the youngin’s collect dirt and mud from your yard. Have them fill the cake pan about half way. Then have them make a mountain with the mud and dirt. Make sure you pack the mountain pretty tight but also leave some loose dirt around the mountain and the base. Here’s what ours looked like once we were done.

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Wind:
Wind is one way that erosion and weathering occurs. But it takes a long time for it to show any real progress. To show how long it takes have each lad/lass take a straw and blow through it towards the mountain. Have them blow towards the base as well. While they are doing this have them talk about which one is easier; the packed dirt mountain or the loose dirt.

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Rain & Flooding:
Rain and flooding is another great way for mother nature to change the shape of the land forms in an area. Have each lad/lass use the container of water with the holes in the lid and gently pour the water on the mountain. Instruct the lads/lasses to observe how the mountain looks before the rain starts and then how it looks afterwards. Ask them if there are any differences in the pan and if there are what are they? Did the dirt from the mountain move to the part of the pan where there wasn’t any dirt before?  Then, take the lid off the water container and have them pour gently the water onto the mountain. Again, have them observe what the cake pan mountain looked like before and what it looks like afterwards. Start a discussion on how this would affect plant, animal and human life.

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Waves:
By this point you should have about 1/2 gallon of water in the cake pan. Prop the cake pan up with what you are going to use to prop it up. Have the lad/lass make waves by gently lifting up the cake pan and putting it back down. Have them observe what is happening and ask them if the water is changing the mountain at all. Start a discussion on how plants, animals and people would have to adjust to live in this type of environment.

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Glacier Movement:
We did this one last with what was left from our mountain. Take the block of ice (we used tightly packed snow/ice from the ground since there was still a lot of it around) and put it on top of your mountain. Gently push down on it and slowly slide it down the mountain towards your water. Open a discussion about how slow glaciers move but how much they change the land around them. Once you get to the “ocean” part of your cake pan have the lad/lass talk about how much different the mountain looks and why the ice was able to do that.

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Lord J & C really loved this project and were able to grasp the concepts pretty good. We’ll probably do a couple more projects later on this spring to show it again but for now, mother natures vengeance on Oklahoma served us well 🙂

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