The Magic School Bus Rocks and Rolls
Arnold and the other kids enlist the power of water erosion to sculpt stone! Your kids explore how running water moves earth and creates new landforms. They track erosion on a timeline.
- Grades: 3–5
Field Trip Notes
To celebrate the founding of Walkerville, Mrs. Frizzle's class sculpts a stone likeness of Walkerville's founding father, Captain Walker - but the statue tumbles down the mountain. Ms. Frizzle turns the bus into a giant boulder, the kids into rock-kids, and they give chase. By the time they reach the celebration at the base of the mountain, they've been pushed, tossed, sanded, polished, and eroded by water - as has the statue, now the size of the soccer ball. The kids are sure they've let everyone down - until they look back at the mountain for the surprise of their lives!
Time: 30 minutes
Group Size: 4
Arnold and the other kids enlist the power of water erosion to sculpt stone! Your kids explore how running water moves earth and creates new landforms.
What You Need
- Paper cup
- Drinking straw
- Modeling clay
- Wood plank or stiff cardboard about 2 feet long
- Bucket of soil
- Trowel or large spoon
- Bucket of water
- Copies of GET ERODED! page
Ahead of time: Find books about local geology. Fill a bucket with local soil. Ask kids to bring in a water-eroded rock. Ask: What will you look for? (smooth, sculpted shape; ice cleavages)
Talk About It
Ask: How might water have changed your rock? What evidence do you see? How might water move rocks to faraway places?
What To Do
- This is an outdoor activity. Have kids set up erosion boards on outdoor tables or the ground. Have buckets of soil and water ready.
- Help kids poke holes in their cups. Seal the straw with clay.
- Have kids draw predictions before anyone gets water.
- After the first erosion test, ask: What might happen later to the soil and rocks washed down the slope?
- Get kids to clean off the erosion board and add a new soil layer.
- Repeat with the boards at a higher angle. Ask: Why would water flowing down a steeper slope wash down more soil and bigger rocks? (The water has more energy.)
- Challenge kids to contain the erosion. Create a landscape to control water flow by packing soil around stones, sticks, leaves, roots.
Draw timelines of the kids’ rocks. Decide on a time scale, and let kids give their ideas for: where their rock was a very long time ago and what it looked like; where it was found; where it will be and how it will look a long time in the future.