Learning Through Stream Tables ~ By: Ken Davis

posted Dec 6, 2013, 1:00 AM by rumbaiphoto@isriau.org

The fifth and sixth grade students have been tirelessly working with their stream tables to collect evidence to answer the question, what created the Grand Canyon?

The picture at the right shows two of our geologists setting up their experiment to test the rate at which water flows to affect the

“cutting” of the plateau. All data is collected through video, which the students analyze later to determine their results.

What have we proved so far?

The first variable we looked at was water flow. The students were able to determine that there was a correlation between rate of water flow and “cutting” of the plateau. Students were also able to determine that lighter objects are deposited farther downstream than heavier objects. This exciting discovery was shown by mixing clay powder and sand in the stream table and observing which materials ended up farther from the water source.

What’s Next?

Having run three different steam table investigations, the students are now ready to conduct their own experiments based on other variables that helped create the Grand Canyon. Some students have elected to investigate how steepness changes the rate of erosion, while others are building dams in the water flow to simulate volcanic activity that took place early in the Grand Canyons development. 

Wrapping it Up

To finish the project the students will compile all of their data and form a committee of experts. As a committee, they will be asked to convince a panel of judges that their theory on how the Grand Canyon formed is correct. This will be a great way for students to practice being Expressive Communicators and Thinkers and Problem Solvers!

Look at all the fun we are having! 


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