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After discussing weathering and erosion in class, students are asked to do a small amount of research on different types of chemical weathering, physical weathering, and erosion processes (mostly out of their textbook). Outside of class students then dirty at least four similar dishes with the same type, thickness and aerial extent of food, preferably baked on to ensure maximum stick. One dish is set aside as a control (no weathering or erosion will occur for that dish). For each of the remaining three dishes, students devise an experiment that mimics some sort of chemical weathering, physical weathering, or erosion process (freeze/thaw, sand abrasion, oxidation, etc.). Prior to the experiments, the thickness of food is measured. Experiments are timed, and at the end of the experiment each plate is turned over to determine how much which method removed the greatest aerial extent of food. Experimental results are compared to the control plate to determine the actual effectiveness. Erosion/weathering rates are determined by dividing the thickness of food removed by the experimental time. Students then calculate how long it would take to remove a pile of food the size of the Geology building (assume a 50 m radius sphere), and to remove an amount of food equivalent to the depth of the Grand Canyon. Students then compare these results to rock erosion and weathering rates, performing similar calculations using these "real" rates (see the full project description for details). Photos of each step and the scientists are encouraged in their 2-3 page writeup.
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