Strand V
Use Scientific Knowledge from the Earth and Space Sciences in Real-World Contexts


Science/Strand V
Content Standard 1
All students will describe the EarthÕs surface; describe and explain how the EarthÕs features change over time; and analyze effects of technology on the EarthÕs surface and resources. (Geosphere)


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1/Elementary
Benchmark 3
Describe natural changes in the EarthÕs surface.

Benchmark Clarification

Water, wind, gravity, and glaciers cause many changes in the EarthÕs surface.

Students will:

  • Recognize evidence that forces such as water, wind, gravity, and glaciers erode the EarthÕs surface
  • Describe how volcanoes, earthquakes, and glaciers change the EarthÕs surface

Key Concept / Real World Context / Instructional Example / Assessment Example / Resources


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1/Elementary/Benchmark 3
Key Concept
Causes of changes:

  • volcanoes
  • earthquakes
  • erosion (water, wind, gravity, glaciers)

Results of change:

  • valleys
  • hills
  • lakes
  • widened rivers
  • mountains
  • cracks
  • movement of Earth materials such as boulders, gravel, sand, clay


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1/Elementary/Benchmark 3
Real World Context
Examples around the school where erosion has occurred:

  • gullies formed in down-hill gravel areas
  • cracks in asphalt

Examples beyond the school where changes have occurred:

  • volcanic mountains
  • shorelines
  • landslides
  • sand dunes
  • slopes
  • river valleys


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1/Elementary/Benchmark 3
Instructional Example

Benchmark Question: How do the EarthÕs features change over time?

Focus Question: How does water erosion change the EarthÕs surface over time?

The teacher will pose the focus question and facilitate a discussion to assess the studentsÕ prior knowledge.

Students will create their own models of a hill using Earth materials (boulders, gravel, sand, clay). Students will describe their models in writing, orally, or in a labeled drawing. Using a cup with small holes in the bottom, students then will pour water, one cup at a time, to simulate a rainstorm. After each cup, students will describe the changes in their models and the process (erosion) that causes these changes. In this way, students will demonstrate how the process of erosion, caused by moving water, changes the EarthÕs surface.

Students will discuss the changes that occur due to the process of erosion.

Students will predict the effects on their model if a heavy rainfall occurs over many days. The teacher will correct any misconceptions. (List some possible misconceptions that students might have like weathering and erosion being synonymous. Weathering breaks down the material IN PLACE whereas erosion involves the TRANSPORT of material away from the original site)

Results of erosion:

  • gullies
  • movement of Earth material
  • lakes
  • rivers/streams
  • hills
  • valleys

Constructing: (SCI.I.1.E.1), (SCI.I.1.E.4), (SCI.I.1.E.5).

Reflecting: (SCI.II.1.E.1), (SCI.II.1.E.4).


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1/Elementary/Benchmark 3
Assessment Example

The teacher will give students the following scenario:

In the spring, road construction began on the highway near Jose's house. Jose observed a cone-shaped pile of soil approximately six feet tall left by the construction crew. A heavy rain occurred lasting two days. After the rain, Jose noticed the pile had changed.

Each student will write a paragraph describing the cause and effect of changes in a pile of soil after a heavy rainstorm. Students will describe at least three changes Jose observed, including the process (erosion).

Students should refer to the Real-World Context in this benchmark in their answers.

(Give students rubric before activity.)

Scoring Rubric






Completeness of description of erosion

Describes a single change, not a process, without using the word Òerosion.Ó

Describes a process of change without including the term Òwater erosion.Ó

Describes a process of change as water erosion.

Describes a process of change as water erosion and other forces (wind, gravity, or glaciers) that cause erosion.

Completeness of description of effects of change

Describes fewer than two effects/changes caused by erosion.

Describes two effects/ changes caused by erosion.

Describes three effects/ changes caused by erosion.

Describes more than three effects/changes caused by erosion.


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1/Elementary/Benchmark 3


Images of Weathering.

All Along a River created by high school students, this site uses animation to portray river erosion, volume, transportation, and velocity.

Cole, Joanna. Magic School Bus- Blows Its Top: A Book About Volcanoes. Scholastic, 1996.

Cole, Joanna. Magic Schools Bus- Inside the Earth. Scholastic, 1989.