The primary inspiration for this unit is the GEMS guide “River Cutters”, written by Cary I. Sneider and Katharine Barrett and produced by the Lawrence Hall of Science. I strongly recommend this guide, even if you don’t intend to use it because they offer fabulous tips and recommendations for using river cutter tubs with students. In addition, the guide provides fabulous diagrams, handouts, homework assignments, suggestions, resources and more that can be used as a prelude or complement to this activity.
For more information about erosion and sediments:
- Wikipedia provides a great primer on the basics of erosion.
- Georgia Perimeter College has some excellent notes on erosion written for their teacher education program by Dr. Pamela Gore.
- Watersheds.org also provides a good overview about erosion, divided into Field and Slope Erosion versus Valley and Stream Erosion. Their website is useful for connecting common erosion patterns to a real world creek, Bryant Creek.
Shaping Earth’s Surface
2. Topography is reshaped by the weathering of rock and soil and by the transportation and deposition of sediment. As a basis for understanding this concept:
Students know water running downhill is the dominant process in shaping the landscape, including California’s landscape.
Students know rivers and streams are dynamic systems that erode, transport sediment, change course, and flood their banks in natural and recurring patterns.
Students know beaches are dynamic systems in which the sand is supplied by rivers and moved along the coast by the action of waves.
Investigation and Experimentation
7. Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations.