As glaciers move, they create a variety of patterns on landforms
by a process called glacial scour (or scraping).
The student will
Standards Addressed: Benchmarks
C. Describe Earth’s resources
including rocks, soil, water, air, animals and plants
and the ways in which
they can be conserved.
Earth Systems / Y2003.CSC.S01.G03-05.BC.L03.I03
03. Describe that smaller rocks come from the breakdown
of larger rocks through the actions of plants and weather.
B. Summarize the processes that
surface and describe evidence of those processes.
Processes That Shape Earth / Y2003.CSC.S01.G03-05.BB.L04.I08
how wind, water and ice shape and reshape Earth’s
land surface by eroding rock and soil in some areas
and depositing them in other
characteristic landforms (e.g., dunes, deltas and
C. Describe interactions of matter and energy throughout
the lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere (e.g., water
cycle, weather and pollution).
Earth Systems / Y2003.CSC.S01.G06-08.BC.L07.I08
08. Describe how temperature and precipitation determine
climatic zones (biomes) (e.g., desert, grasslands, forests,
tundra and alpine).
E. Describe the processes that
contribute to the continuous changing of Earth’s
surface (e.g., earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, erosion,
mountain building and lithospheric
Earth Systems / Y2003.CSC.S01.G06-08.BE.L08.I13
13. Describe how landforms are created through a combination
of destructive (e.g., weathering and erosion) and constructive
processes (e.g., crustal deformation, volcanic eruptions
and deposition of sediment).
Earth Systems / Y2003.CSC.S01.G06-08.BE.L08.I14
14. Explain that folding, faulting and uplifting can rearrange
the rock layers so the youngest is not always found on
Plastic or paper cup
Sharp pieces of gravel
- Smooth piece of wood
Review with the students what they
have learned about glaciers — how and why they move.
(Ice, under great
pressure, becomes plastic and flows like a thick liquid.)
Ask students how they think
scientists can tell if glaciers have moved over the
land. Explain that rocks
and gravel freeze. The weight of the glacier causes the
bottom of it to be “plastic-like” and gravity
pushes it down ridges and crevasses. What would happen
to the land over which a glacier travels? What evidence
would a glacier leave behind?
Tell the students they’re going to
make a glacier. Divide the class into partners or groups
Fill a paper cup with sharp pieces of gravel.
Cover the gravel with about an inch of water.
Tape plastic wrap tightly over the top of the cup.
Flip the cup on to a paper plate, so that the plastic
wrap is next to the plate.
When the “glaciers” are
frozen solid, have students peel off the plastic wrap
and scrape them, gravel
end down, over a smooth piece of wood to simulate the
action of a glacier. Be sure to only scrape in one direction,
because glaciers move in only one direction.
Have students observe the patterns the gravel has made
on the wood. How would this compare to patterns made
on the land by real glaciers?
Have students sketch their patterns and write a paragraph
explaining what they can infer about the way real glaciers
affect the landforms over which they move.
Discuss how patterns of glaciations provide clues to
the climate in a particular area over time. For example,
if evidence of glacial scraping is found in an area that
is too warm for glaciers to exist, what can we infer
about how the climate in that area has changed over a
long period of time?
3 points — sketches carefully and
draws accurately; paragraphs clear, complete and error-free
2 points — sketches adequate; paragraphs sufficiently
clear, but with some errors
1 point — sketches adequate; paragraphs lacking in clarity
with numerous errors
Adapted from a lesson by Frank Weisel, Earth Science Teacher,
Tilden Middle School, Rockport, Maryland