Working in classrooms across Warren County, we often hear 4th graders reciting rhymes, chants, or songs aimed at committing to memory the three processes that change our Earth's surface; Weathering breaks or changes it, Erosion takes or carries it, and Deposition drops or deposits it.
Or in 8th grade classes, we witness students further investigating how combinations of constructive and destructive geological processes form Earth’s surface.
Understanding these concepts falls in line with Ohio Learning Science Standards and also helps lay the foundation for students to observe and learn how and why our planet is shifting and changing. Then they can better study how human activity may play a role in the acceleration or deceleration of these changes, for we too are part of this system.
One way Warren County SWCD assists in this learning experience is to bring in our interactive stream/geology table to the classroom for students to visually observe destructive erosion and constructive deposition in action. Students have the opportunity to make hypotheses about what they may see, and then participate in creating stream ecosystems and/or various land forms. Multiple scenarios can be developed to see how the addition or removal of elements changes the rate of weathering, erosion, and deposition on the model sand table.
By being able to visually watch formation of land forms, soil erode from river cut banks, and deltas form via deposition, students can connect the definition of these processes with real life effects. They also gain correct terminology and vocabulary to better discuss a river ecosystem and prepare them for future ecology studies.
Weathering, erosion, and deposition are constantly occurring in our environment. Agents of change include water, wind, gravity, and ice. Studying earth formations through hands on demonstrations of different types of weathering and erosion, sets up students to delve into both the past and the future.
Exploring topics like glacial evidence of mechanical weathering provides insight into how the Ohio landscape started to emerge.
Kelly's Island, Sandusky, Ohio
And how glacial melting from climate change may alter landscapes in the future...
Muir's Inlet, Riggs Bay glacier
River systems connect to topics of erosion which impacts human development and water quality issues. Sediment pollution in river systems affects ecological balances and drinking water. Streambank erosion in tributaries contribute to overall stream health.
Turtle Creek, Lebanon Ohio
Chemical weathering and erosion contribute to karst formations like sink holes and caves. These underground wonders can be explored with different activities and demonstrations.
As education specialists, we are thrilled and excited to share knowledge with students and teachers that bring in real life examples pertaining to the rivers, formations, and ecosystems around their school district. Empowering students with ways they can help protect their local environment gives them an active role in conservation as well.
Some conservation tips to share:
Recycle and Reuse
Place appropriate items in the recycling bin instead of the trash.
Choose rechargeable batteries, then recycle them when they die. You'd have to use hundreds of single-use batteries to equal the energy you'd get out of one rechargable battery. Be sure to recycle all batteries to keep harmful metals from entering the environment.
When you drink bottled water, reuse the bottle before recycling it. Or instead use a refillable water bottle rather than buying bottled water from the store.
Improve the Outdoors
Plant a deciduous (leafy) tree. Trees help clean the air we breathe. They produce oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide. Their roots help to stabilize soil and reduce erosion.
Participate in cleanup days at a beach or park. Use those outdoor trash cans! Never litter. Keep our waterways clean. When you visit a park or beach, be sure you deposit your trash in containers and volunteer at some state and national cleanups.
Safeguard Storm Drains
Don't litter. Trash tossed carelessly outside often washes into storm drains, which empty into rivers and streams that eventually flow to the oceans. Pollution is a growing problem for all the Earth's ocean and its wildlife.
Cut Down on Waste
Ban all drips. If you have a dripping faucet in the house, ask your parents to replace the washer inside it. If you stop a faucet from leaking one drop each second, you can save 2,700 gallons (10,220 liters) of water a year.
Don't pile your plate. "When's dinner?" you want to know. You're starving after a long day at school! Even so, restrain yourself and take only what you know you'll really be able to eat. Enough edible food to feed 49 million people ends up in landfills in the United States each year. When you do have food waste, compost it!
Spread the Word
Tell your friends! The more people who treat the Earth well, the safer all its inhabitants will be.
To learn more about the interactive stream/geology table and earth formations programs, or to schedule a classroom presentation, contact Marta or Melissa, Warren County SWCD's Education Specialists.
*Details also available about loan opportunities of the Stream / Geology Table to your classroom for teacher guided use.
Nature is full of wonder and inspiration! Making observations of our natural world can lead to many discoveries, and help teach us about the planet on which we live. As we celebrate those we love today, take a moment to celebrate the love of nature too!
Farmers' Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program:
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
How to Use
Web Soil Survey:
How to make the most of your soil type:
Wildlife, Aquatics, Forestry, Soils
and Current Environmental Issue (CEI)
What is the Envirothon:
The Envirothon is designed to stimulate, reinforce and enhance interest in our environment and our natural resources among high school students.
The Envirothon tests students' knowledge of soils, forestry, wildlife, aquatic ecology and current environmental issues (CEI). In addition, the Envirothon encourages cooperative decision-making and team building. While each student on an Envirothon team is challenged to contribute his or her personal best, the score that counts at the end of an Envirothon is the team score.
Any high school teacher can start an Envirothon team in their school. A team consists of a maximum of five students, all from the same high school. The High School can have up to 3 total teams. An adult advisor (or advisors) must accompany the team, but is not permitted to assist the team during the competition. Teams usually convene before or after school to study the Envirothon areas of study. There is lots of guidance and assistance on the the Area, State and National Envirothon information pages.
Warren SWCD can help mentor any teacher in creating a new Envirothon team or continuing an established program. We can help teach and guide students towards important information. We are very familiar with the Envirothon process and competition, so don't hesitate to inquire further or ask for assistance!
Follow this link to learn more:
"Water is critical to sustaining life on Earth."
NASA Hydrological Science Research Portal:
Study tracks “memory” of soil moisture
The Apple and The Earth:
Carefully peel an apple in quarters (4/4).
In comparison, three-fourths (3/4) of the apple represents the amount of water on Earth and one-fourth (1/4) represents Earth's total land surface.
Yet, one-eighth (1/8) of this slice of land is "Uninhabitable and Non-Arable Land" - approx. 1/8 of the Earth's surface is inhospitable to people and to crops. This includes areas such as polar regions, deserts, swamps, and high or rocky mountains.
The other one-eighth (1/8) represents one-half (1/2) of Earth's surface in which people live, but cannot necessarily grow food.
If this one-eighth (1/8) of the apple is sliced into 4 even cross-sections, consider that three out of thirty-two (3/32) slices represent land in which people can live but cannot grow food. "Some of it use to be arable, but isn't any longer because it has been developed or turned into cities, suburbs, highways, etc., so it can no longer be formed. Governments have earmarked other areas, such as parks, nature preserves and other public lands to remain undeveloped forever".
This leaves 1/32 remaining, which we will call our "most valuable part" - our "topsoil". Topsoil is our dark nutrient-rich soil that holds moisture and feeds us by feeding our crops. "Currently, 90% of U.S. croplands lose soil above the 'sustainable rate'."
Some Facts About Farmland:
"Erosion by wind and water is the most serious cause of soil loss and degradation. Although it is a natural process, erosion is accelerated greatly by things like construction, deforestation, and unsustainable practices in farming and animal grazing.
In the U.S., soil is now eroding at 17 times the rate at which it forms (via 2014). The soil erosion rate is estimated to be double in Asia, Africa, and South America. In order to feed the nearly 80 million humans added to the population annually, 12 million acres of new land must be put into production.
More than 25 million acres of productive arable land are severely degraded and abandoned worldwide every year—that’s an area the size of the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota put together."
How can we preserve farmland?
By not building on arable land: Land covered up by buildings, highways, and other forms of development can't be used for growing crops. In the U.S., nearly 2.2 million acres of land are converted to urban and other uses each year. About 25% of that land is former cropland.
By eating lower on the food chain: While over a billion people suffer from malnutrition or starvation, meat production requires a disproportionate amount of grain input. Producing a pound of beef in a feed lot requires seven pounds of grain, a pound of pork requires four, and a pound of poultry requires two pounds of grain. The land that is used to produce grain for consumption by animals is unavailable for growing grain for human consumption.
By reducing pollution: Pollution impairs the ability of the land and the seas to provide food that's both sufficient in quantity and free of contaminants.
By stabilizing human population growth: Food supply is an excellent example of the relationship between any resource and the size and consumption patterns of the population that depends on it. Simply put, the more people there are to feed, the less food there is to go around.
ODA: Preserving Farmland
Explore Climate Change Topics and Discover What Actions Humans Can Take
Author: Marta Farrell, Education Specialist