ALEX Lesson Plan

Who Can Stop the Rain?

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Mary Boyce
System: Eufaula City
School: Eufaula City Board Of Education
The event this resource created for:NASA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34201


Who Can Stop the Rain?


The purpose of the lesson is to identify suitable porous materials for the sidewalk. The students should test and evaluate the material that best reduces erosion caused during excessive rainfall.

This lesson was created as part of the 2016 NASA STEM Standards of Practice Project, a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
2 ) Collect and evaluate data to determine appropriate uses of materials based on their properties (e.g., strength, flexibility, hardness, texture, absorbency).*

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.2.2- Identify common materials and appropriate uses based on their physical properties (e.g., rubber bands stretch, sidewalks are hard, paper tears).

SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
11 ) Examine and test solutions that address changes caused by Earth's events (e.g., dams for minimizing flooding, plants for controlling erosion).*

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.2.11- Participate in activities that model changes caused by Earth's events.

Local/National Standards:


Next Generation Science Standards

Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of properties could include, strength, flexibility, hardness, texture, and absorbency.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment of quantitative measurements is limited to length.]


Next Generation Science Standards.

Compare multiple solutions designed to slow or prevent wind or water from changing the shape of the land.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of solutions could include different designs of dikes and windbreaks to hold back wind and water, and different designs for using shrubs, grass, and trees to hold back the land.]


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will collaboratively plan and conduct an investigation.

The students will produce data to serve as the basis in order to determine which material is most porous and best suited to reduce erosion.


Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will explain a cause and effect relationship to another student by writing or drawing.

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Time Not Specified

Materials and Resources:


  • a clear, plastic tub/container, approximately 9 x 9 and at least 3" high
  • a variety of porous and non-porous materials (sand, pebbles, pine straw, aluminum foil, wooden craft sticks, concrete, clay, plastic)
  • water
  • measuring cups
  • pencil, permanent maker, and paper
  • dry erase board
  • one brick per container

Technology Resources Needed:

  • LCD projector
  • computer to view video clip
  • internet access
  • document camera
  • portable digital camera, optional
  • Youtube video- Erosion and Soil


  • Water covers 75% of the Earth.
  • Man-made structures can interrupt the natural drainage of water.
  • Although water is a necessity for life, it can also be destructive.
  • Erosion is a change in the physical surface of the earth due to wind and water. 
  • A porous/permeable material allows liquids to pass through an object.
  • A non-porous/non-permeable material prevents liquids from passing through an object.
  • The properties of solids and liquids.

Engagement/Motivation Activity (5-7 minutes)

The teacher will start the lesson by asking students to predict if there is more land or water on the Earth.  Teacher should display the results.   Next, students will play a cooperative game using an inflatable Earth (model or globe), preferably with satellite images to show an accurate depiction of the amount of water and land. 

Have students identify their right thumb. Where the right thumb lands as the student catches the Earth model determines land or water. The teacher will gently toss the Earth model to individual students to catch with both hands and announce land or water.  Students may throw it back to teacher or toss gently to another student.  Teacher (or student) will write the tallies on the board marked Land/Water.  Teacher will complete ten tosses and have students identify the outcome.  Teacher will repeat the process for two additional ten-toss sets.  Teacher will ask if there is more land or water based on the outcome of the game.  Students should discuss observations with a peer as to why.

Step 1- The teacher is to point out water is a necessity of life, but too much can cause harm. (Show video clip of flooding of Barbour Creek, Eufaula, AL- attached). Then, students will take a walking field trip and record any areas around school that have eroded. Students will discuss and share their findings on the white board or document camera.  As a visual example, show the video Erosion and Soil to demonstrate the effects of erosion.

Step 2- The teacher says something like this, “Some man-made structures, like sidewalks, prevent water from soaking into the dirt causing the area around it to erode. If you could create your own sidewalk, what materials would you use that would fix this problem?” Note the materials the students proposed.

Teacher will present the variety of materials to the group.  The teacher will divide the class into groups prior to the lesson to allow for diversity within each group.  The students will choose a material to test by selecting a tub you have assembled to see what happens when water is applied.  Students are to discuss what happens and then discuss if their material is best suited for a sidewalk.

Step 3: Prior to the lesson, the teacher should place tubs around the room, each with a brick on top of the soil to represent a sidewalk.  (The various materials are available for groups to test one at a time.) The students will place one material in the tub and add water.  The group should observe the outcome, discuss their observations, and record their findings.  The number of trials should be determined by the teacher.

Possible observations that should be made are that paper towels, bread, cotton balls, and cardboard soak up the water and are absorbent. Pine straw, pebbles, and sand allow water to pass through but could be carried away.  

ASK-Which materials do you think would make the best sidewalk to walk on?  Note:  Pebbles and sand are a good sidewalk material because it lets water pass through, but it can wash away.   Allow 7 to 10 minutes per test sampling to allow for a deep, thorough experiment and discussion.  (Use a signal to rotate if more than one test is done.)

Using a document camera or white board, make a chart of the tested materials.  Have students display on the list the properties (or findings) they discovered out about their material.

Categorize the findings into absorbent (soaks up), porous, (passes through) non porous (runs off).   As a class, discuss the  materials that might be best for a sidewalk and why.

Wrap up:

What have we learned?

Earth is 75% water. Water is necessary for life. Sometimes water can wash things away that we have built. Different materials have different properties and some are good for helping things not to wash away.

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Assessment Strategies

  • Teacher will do a formative assessment of students' understanding of land masses and bodies of water and correct any misconceptions. 

  • The teacher will use visual observation and the rubric to determine each student’s ability to analyze and compare the data at the completion of activity.   

  • The teacher will give each group a printed assignment sheet and rubric.


  • Students can bring in additional materials they proposed to test. Students can propose plans to fix a drainage problem.
  • Students could extend their outcomes by moving the materials below the sand and rock with help to absorb water with absorbent.
  • Students can use these materials in an area where there is a puddle and fix it, such as under the swing set.

Students can use a digital camera to record and share their findings.  This may also assist students that are EL, with an IEP, and/or non-proficient writers.


  • Pair students with special needs with a child who can assist them. 
  • Limit the materials to be tested
  • Students can use a digital camera to record and share their findings.  This may assist students that are EL, with an IEP, and/or non-proficient writers.  It can also allow students to view it again, as needed.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.