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Ice, Wind & Water

Which has the greatest impact?

Australian Curriculum links

  • Science > Earth and space science > Year 4 > ACSSU075
  • Science > Earth and space science > Year 8 > ACSSU153
  • Science > Earth and space science > Year 10 > ACSSU189

You’ll need

  • 3 x rectangular take away containers
  • Sand
  • An ice block
  • A straw
  • Water

Try this

  1. Half fill the three containers with sand.
  2. Titlt the containers so that the sand is on a slope from one side to the other.
  3. Place a block of ice at the top of the sand slope in one container and allow to melt.
  4. Pour some water gently on top the sand in another container.
  5. Use the straw to blow gently over the slope of the last container.
  6. Observe the different patterns in the sand from these actions. Which one acted first? Which made the biggest impact?

Further investigation

  • Try using different sand or soil. Does this make a difference?
  • What happens if you try this on soil that has plants or other material on it?
  • What happens if you use a spray bottle to spray water mist over the slope continuously?
  • What happens if you start with wet sand?

What’s happening?

There are many things that act on our soil to cause soil erosion. Water rushes over soil, taking soil particles with it. Wind acts on sand and rock in areas with strong wind and little vegetation such as deserts and coastlines. Glaciers are an area of ice that is so heavy that it moves under its own weight. These scour the rock away, forming U-shaped valleys. Glaciers move at about 1 metre per day.

Real world links

Did you know that Australia is the only continent that does not have glaciers? There are glaciers in every other continent and they contain about 70% of the world’s fresh water. In fact, if all the world’s glaciers were to melt the sea level would rise by around 70 metres. Established glaciers have a distinct blue colour. This is because they are so heavy and dense that air bubbles are pushed out of the ice. The ice absorbs red and yellow light, only reflecting blue to give their blue appearance.