Unique Landscapes


Tiffany May

The Cobble Hill High School of American Studies, Brooklyn

Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

August 2011



Subject:  Earth Science

Grade Level: 10th

Unit: Landscapes

Duration: 1 - 45 minute period

Aim/Teaching Point: Great scientists determine the types of erosion and weathering that formed a specific landscape.

Objectives: SWBAT:

Vocabulary: Physical weathering, chemical weathering, erosion, and deposition.


Procedure: Students will begin class by answering the Do Now- 'Name that Agent of Erosion!' on the Smartboard.  In this warm-up, there will be six simple images clearly displaying an eroded landscape.  These images may be taken from the internet or a textbook resource.  The chosen images should be clear as to what type of erosion is pictured (e.g. sand dunes, river meanders, U-shaped valleys). The students will name what type of erosion each was formed by: wind, running water, glaciers, gravity, or waves based on what they have learned so far in the unit.  They will then explain how they knew using evidence seen in the picture (for example, the landscape had a U-shaped valley so it must have been carved out by a glacier).

After sharing out the Do Now answers, the teacher will introduce the activity.  Students will pair up in groups of 2-3 at their tables and will work together on the landscape worksheet.  Each group of 2-3 students will receive one 8x10 photo of a landscape, and fill out the landscape chart for each numbered picture.  Using their observations, the students will determine the type of weathering (chemical or physical), the evidence of weathering, the agent(s) of erosion, and the evidence of that erosion in each picture.  Each group will get one of the six pictures, and will have four minutes to fill out the chart.  To keep time, the online stopwatch will be up on the Smartboard to count down the four minutes.  Once time is up, the groups will rotate their pictures clockwise to the next table, so that each group will observe all six landscapes by the end of the activity.

Once the groups have completed their landscape charts, they can move onto the analysis questions on the back of the worksheet.  Each table will then be selected to share out their observations for one of the six landscapes on the Smartboard.  Students will be asked to pick vote on which images was their favorite, then to predict what that landscape would look like in 100 years.

Summary:  The teacher will the pose the summary question, How do erosion, weathering, and deposition work together to create extraordinary and beautiful landscapes over time? and have students share out their thoughts, relating it to the images they had seen.


Homework:  Students will be directed to go online to http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/landscapes/ They will then pick an image of their choice and write a narrative in at least 5-7 sentences about how weathering, erosion, and deposition made this specific landscape unique.

Note to teachers:  National Geographic has fantastic images of landscapes.  Most of them display more than one agent of erosion.  Picking images that are more visually complicated makes it become more of a fun challenge to figure out what the picture actually is besides what forces are at work on each landscape.  You can also differentiate for ability levels by using more simple images versus the more complicated ones; including satellite images from planet landscapes to touch on planetary geology.


NOTE: All photo's were found on the National Geographic website.



National Science Standards:

E.D.3a: Changes in Earth and sky

M.D.1.c: Structure of the Earth System

M.U.2- Evidence, models, and explanation


New York City Science Standards

S1b: Demonstrates an understanding of structure and properties of matter.

S4a: Demonstrates an understanding of big ideas and unifying concepts.

S5: Works individually and in teams to collect and share information and ideas.

S7: Communicates in a form suited to the purpose and the audience.


New York State Science Standards:

Standard 1: Analysis, Inquiry, and Design, Key idea 1- The central purpose of scientific inquiry is to develop explanations of natural phenomena in a continuing, creative process.

Standard 1: Analysis, Inquiry, and Design, Key idea 3- The observations made while testing proposed explanations, when analyzed using conventional and invented methods, provide new insights into phenomena.

Standard 6: Interconnectedness, Common Themes, Key Idea 1-  Through systems thinking, people can recognize the commonalities that exist among all systems and how parts of a system interrelate and combine to perform specific functions.