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Weathering and Erosion

Investigation 2 – PreLab









Weathering and erosion are the two main ways that Earth’s rocky surface is molded and changed. Together they create and reveal marvels of nature from boulders crashing down mountainsides to sandstone arches in the desert to jagged cliffs along the shore. 


Geoscientists investigate the composition, structure, or history of the Earth’s crust through the collection, examination, measurement, or classification of soils, minerals, rocks, or fossil remains. They also advise construction firms or government agencies on dam or road construction, foundation design, land use, or resource management.


This Investigation is designed to help you to answer the following Focus Questions:

  • What occurs when erosion takes place? 
  • What factors increase or decrease erosion? 

Note: These questions are also located in your SDR at the beginning and end of the Investigation.


As a class, read the Background(s) in the Investigation. When finished, discuss the following concepts as a class:

  • Erosion occurs when rock and soil are moved from one place to another.
  • Erosion can occur quickly or over millions of years.
  • Wind and moving water contribute to erosion



The following list includes Key Terms that are introduced in the Investigation Background(s). They should be used, as appropriate, by teachers and students during everyday classroom discourse.

  • physical weathering
  • chemical weathering
  • rocks
  • minerals



    • In the lab, you will model the erosion of soil by water flow.
    • Erosion occurs when soil material is moved from one location to another by water or wind.
    • Water and wind both are capable of exerting force on soil material and cause it to move.
    • Soil material consists of rock, gravel, sand, and organic components.
    • The rock, gravel, and sand are the products of both physical and chemical weathering.
    • As you perform your experiments, keep the following questions in mind:
      • What is erosion?
      • What causes erosion?
      • Erosion affects what types of land forms?
    • Complete the Recall section in your SDR.
    • The Investigation consists of four Trials. The Trials investigate how different factors affect how much erosion occurs.
    • Play the video below. Remember to follow along with your SDR and make any notes that you think might be helpful in the lab.
    • After the video, met with your lab group to discuss strategy for the lab. For example, you may assign certain group members to perform specific functions during the lab.

    Note: The purpose of the video is to allow you to anticipate the laboratory experience you will soon encounter. You should leave this PreLab session with a firm idea of what to expect and how to perform in the lab.

    Note: Homework is posted below the video. 


Be sure to review the Investigation in preparation for the Lab.