The Magic School Bus Rocks and Rolls
- 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.