Dirtmeister's Science Reporters

Investigate and Report on Erosion
How do the forces of erosion change the world in which we live? Join us and find out!

Greetings Science Snoopers! You might say we're going to really get "down and dirty" because our topic is erosion and one of the key things that erosion controls is DIRT! Most people don't realize it, but every minute of every day, our earth is being changed by the forces of erosion. Wind, water, ice, insects, and even people help to move soil and wear away the surface of the planet. Your mission is to investigate one way that erosion shapes your neighborhood and then write about it. Let's begin by investigating the facts!


1. Investigate the Facts
Erosion is happening all around us. Even though you may not recognize it, the forces of erosion are constantly shaping our planet. Sometimes, as in a mudslide or avalanche, erosion happens quickly. More often than not, erosion happens so slowly that you can't even see it. Over time, the simple act of water running downhill can not only carve out a hole the size of the Grand Canyon, but it can literally move mountains!

Before wind and water can carry material away, rock first has to break down. Geologists call this process "weathering." As the name suggests, weathering is controlled by things like wind and rain, and it comes in two basic forms. Chemical weathering happens when substances like water or acids get into rock and react with the minerals that make up the rock. You may have noticed that if you leave your bike or other steel object out in the rain, it tends to get rusty. Well, it turns out that the same thing happens to certain minerals inside rocks. After enough time, these minerals change so much that they simply crumble.

Mechanical weathering happens when things like ice physically break rock apart. If you have ever left a can of soda in a freezer too long, you know that when water freezes to ice, it expands so much that it may actually split the can apart. The same thing happens when rain gets inside rocks and freezes. Known as "frost wedging," this process can reduce solid rock to tiny pieces in just a few short years!

Once weathering breaks a rock down, then it's up to gravity to move them along. That's right, I said GRAVITY! Think about it. Why does water flow downhill? Gravity! What makes a rockslide happen? Gravity! Why do your pants fall down when they're too big? Gravity! It turns out that if it wasn't for gravity always pulling things down, very little erosion would actually happen! Now that we've got you thinking about how erosion works, it's time to observe and record! 

Learn more about:
There are many ways that erosion changes the surface of the Earth. Here are a few examples for you to think about!Grand Canyon
Animals and People

2. Observe & Record
Find and describe one way that EROSION affects the earth in YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD or AREA. Remember, it should be an example in your area. Print out this page and answer the questions below. When you're done filling in this form, write your report.
Erosion Observation Sheet Your Name: _______________________

1. What is the example of erosion happening around your neighborhood or local area?

2. What agent or force is causing the erosion to happen?

3. Where is the eroded material going?

4. What can be done in order to reduce the amount of erosion?

5. Can you think of another similar example of erosion and describe it?

3. Report Your Findings
Are you ready to write a complete report about how erosion occurs in your neighborhood or in your local area? Before you write your report, you may want to review my notes from Investigate the Facts about erosion. Compare your notes with my examples. Are you sure what you found is an example of erosion? 
Report Your Findings Your Name: _______________________

1. What is your example of erosion?

Answer the following questions with complete sentences, and combine them into a paragraph.

2. What agent or force is causing the the erosion?
3. Where is the eroded material going?
4. What can be done to reduce the amount of erosion happening?
5. Can you identify a similar example of erosion and describe it?

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4. Read Kids' Reports
Kids around the country are getting the scoop on erosion. Check out some examples of what they have found.
Ravine Erosion
Alexis, Grade 5, NJ

There is a large ravine in my local area. Water is the agent that is causing erosion at the ravine. The eroded material is going downstream. A dam could be built to stop the water, therefore reducing the amount of erosion. A similar example of erosion is the pounding of water against rocks in the ocean.

A Path
Elias C., Grade 5, CA

The force causing the dirt path is humans walking over that area often. The eroded material is the plants and loose dirt. They are being pushed to the side. Humans could stop walking on that path. Biking on non-official trails can cause the same effect but worse.

Concrete Breaking Up
Emily C., Grade 3, KY

Water causes this to happen by running down the yard and washing the dirt away from the steps. The eroded material washes down the hill onto the sidewalk. It may even wash into the streets and sewers. To reduce the amount of erosion you could put up a concrete wall to keep the dirt in place. Another example of erosion is when trees lean because dirt is washed away from the roots, causing the tree to fall.

Jake W., Grade 6, IL

Plowing the fields every year causes farmers to loose much of their valuable land. It goes into the tiles[pipes] by the field. And then it goes to the river and is carried down stream. Farmers can use no till. That is where you just plant the seed without even plowing it. This problem is much like Niagara Falls it keeps going up the river because of all the water flowing over it. 

The Hole In The Street
Nichole W., Grade 4, IL

Water is getting into cracks in the streets, freezing, and cracking the streets. The eroded material is being hit by cars and blown away. Putting more black top onto the holes would help reduce erosion. Another example of erosion is when the wind blows, the dirt spreads around.