Sunday, April 20, 2014

Slippery Slopes

published on: 2/28/2003

Contributing Teacher(s): Margaret Dove

Subject Area: Tech Prep/Natural Resources/Agriculture

Grade Range: High School (9-12)

Materials Needed: Students will need copies of rod scale along with overhead, drafting paper, pencils, clipboards, surveyor''s level and rule.

Objective: After completion of this lesson the student shall be able to: Use surveying level and rod to collect data. Use collected data to calculate percent slope of an area. Evaluate a given landscape for erosion potential based on slope and other visual observations. Propose possible solutions to prevent or slow soil loss due to run-off. Work cooperatively in a small group in order to give and receive help with equipment, data collection, and the creation of possible solutions.

Process Standards:

  • Goal 1.2 conduct research to answer questions and evaluate information and ideas
  • Goal 2.3 exchange information, questions and ideas while recognizing the perspectives of others

Content Standards:

  • Science 5. Processes (such as plate movement, water cycle, air flow) and interactions of earth’s biosphere, atmos...

    Time Allowance: Approximately 2 block periods

    Description: Students measure the local terrain and calculate the percent slope of the landscape--erosion, surveying, surveyor''s level, surveyor''s rod

    Classroom Component: Students will be measuring the local terrain and calculating the percent slope of the landscape. This information will be used to evaluate the local landscape for possible areas that may be subject to erosion and propose possible solutions to such problems. PBS:  Help! The individual in charge of maintaining the school grounds is noticing small rivulets in the new sod that has been placed around the campus. The grass is gone in these areas and these rivulets seem to be widening. He suspects there is an erosion problem due to the heavy rains we have experienced this summer. He has asked our class to help to identify the path of this erosion and to suggest solutions. Background Information:  Erosion is the weathering away of the soil by water, wind and other forces. Water causes about two-thirds of the erosion on our agricultural land. The forces and energy that cause erosion are the impacting waterdrops from rainfall and sprinkle irrigation, and in runoff from rainfall, snowmelt, and irrigation. Plant canopy and ground cover reduce these forces and the erosivity of water. Soil properties, including slope, determine the resistance of soil particles to the erosive energy that remains. The goals of erosion-control practices are to reduce the erosive energy or increase the soil''s resistance, or both. Determining Prior Knowledge:  Students should have completed classroom activities and readings in that they understand the properties of soils: texture, slope, structure, and organic matter content. Additionally students should have researched some of the common solutions to erosion namely: crop cover, no-till farming, ground cover, terracing, and contouring. Approximately 30 minutes should be spent during a previous class in which students work with partners and measure a fifty-foot line. Students should take turns pacing of this fifty-foot line and calculate their average number of strides for this distance. Advance Preparation: Survey your school grounds for an area that shows signs of erosion or run-off or you may use a hilly area in which there does not seem to be a problem but the students should be able to identify existing measures of erosion prevention in this are. Be sure the area has some changes in elevation so that they will have differences in readings when using the surveying equipment. Make copies of the survey rod scale for all students along with overhead copy. Locate surveyor''s level and rod. These instruments may be found in the Vo. Ag. Dept. of some schools. Make sure the area you will be taking your class is not scheduled for football practice etc. Lesson Description: Teacher Activities - Distribute copies of surveyor''s rod scale. Explain numbering system to students. Distribute rulers so students can understand scale (1 foot/10). Diagram on board how a "shot" is recorded. Diagram an example of several "shots" and how to find the difference between each of the readings. Then the slope is calculated by multiplying the differences by 2 since students will take measurements every 50 feet, this will give the students a percentage based on a 100. Student Activities - Working in small groups students will take measurements or shots in fifty feet increments for the radius of a particular area using the surveyor''s equipment. Students will use those measurements to calculate the slope of a given area. Along with this calculation students will make visual observations of the area that will include: presence and/or type of ground cover, signs of erosion, signs of human impact that would contribute to erosion, type or texture of soil particles, any presence of standing or moving water on that area. Students will complete a diagram that includes the readings of the different shots they have taken, the slopes labeled, and their visual observations. Students will then discuss the meaning of their data along with their observations within their groups. Students will do one of two things either identify why there is not an erosion problem and cite specific controls that are in place or suggest a strategy that can be used to decrease erosion in the future. This synopsis should be attached to their drawing. Performance Component:  Students will gain technological skill from their use of the surveyor''s equipment. Additionally students will have to diagrammatically represent their results along with a record of their visual observations. Important Terms:  Slope, surveyor''s level, surveyor''s rod, soil texture, organic matter, ground cover, erosion, run-off, rill erosion, sheet erosion, terracing, contouring Assessment:  This project will be worth 100 Points. Although students will be working in small groups each individual will be responsible to turn in their own copy of the data, drawing, and conclusion.

  • 20 points for having the required number of shots and accuracy in slope calculation
  • 20 points for accuracy and neatness of diagram (must include observations concerning vegetation, water, and suspected water run-off pattern)
  • 30 points for conclusion. Conclusion must be one page and list in detail your results as well as all observations (15) you made of this site. Conclusion should also address measures that could be implemented to control any erosion problems that may be present or measures that have previously been taken that you suspect have prevented erosion from occurring. Be complete in your explanation; assume the reader knows nothing about this topic (15).
  • 30 points are a given for working as a supportive member within your group. However, if students are not within their groups or are not participating within their groups these points will be subtracted. This will be determined by observation by instructor and you will be warned if you appear to be in danger of losing these points. In other words participate!
  • References:  Soil Survey of Lincoln County, Missouri/ US Dept. of Agriculture, Soil Erosion by Water/ US Dept. of Agriculture What do you think of this lesson? SuccessLink needs to know. Click HERE.

    For additional information contact :
    Margaret Dove
    Troy Buchanan High
    Troy R-III
    (636) 528-4618

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