by Amanda Nowicki, Lloyd Center Educator/Naturalist

salt dough mountain click to enlarge

The Lloyd Center for the Environment has been engaging students in the fascinating processes of weathering and erosion since 2017! The Erosion Program was originally developed in collaboration with teachers at Quinn Elementary School in Dartmouth, MA, in an effort to deliver hands-on activities to students that reinforce the fourth-grade Massachusetts standards concerning weathering and erosion. This pilot program with Quinn Elementary School was so successful in helping teachers demonstrate these concepts, that is has since been adopted by all the Dartmouth Elementary Schools.

In a typical year, this in-school Erosion Program would incorporate both technology and hands-on activities to teach the concepts of weathering and erosion. The lesson begins with a power-point presentation which reviews and provides real life situations of these concepts. After the presentation, the hands-on learning begins! The class is separated into three groups, and rotates among three activities: salt dough mountain, wave in a pan, and a teacher-led weathering/erosion card game. A review of the concepts learned concludes the program.

Due to the limiting circumstances of COVID-19, Lloyd Center educators needed to find a way to adjust the program to work around the existing hands-on learning experience portion of the program. Up for the challenge, the educators developed a way to teach this program virtually. In direct coordination with the Dartmouth public school teachers, the program underwent a mild reformat. The Center’s educators can now assist teachers in distributing standards-based curriculum, while at the same time, stay true to the Lloyd Center’s roots, remain fun and engaging for the students.

The Erosion Program will now be a hybrid of virtual and in-school participation. Lloyd Center educators will meet virtually with the students to present their erosion and weathering PowerPoint presentation. Educators will also demonstrate the wave action station for students, and engage them in discussions about what they see happening. Dartmouth classroom teachers will be given a salt dough mountain, tray, and spray bottle to use in the classrooms. Teachers can use the model mountain to demonstrate these concepts and allow students to observe, ask questions and discuss. Teachers will also be provided with the weathering/erosion card game to teach with in a way they see best suited for their classroom.

The COVID-19 force has not weathered or eroded Lloyd Center programs! Rather, it has given educators the opportunity to expand programs to meet virtual needs. Lloyd Center educators will continue to bring active and engaging lessons to students, a concept that will never wash away.