ALEX Lesson Plan


Let’s Get Physical! (or Chemical Weathering)

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Yolanda Moore
System: Perry County
School: Perry County Board Of Education
The event this resource created for:GEMS
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 24146


Let’s Get Physical! (or Chemical Weathering)


This lesson helps students learn the differences between physical and chemical weathering. Students will complete various activities in which they identify and describe the type of weathering that is taking place.
This lesson plan was created as a result of the Girls Engaged in Math and Science, GEMS Project funded by the Malone Family Foundation.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
32 ) Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study. [SL.6.2]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.6.32- Ask a question or make an on-topic comment regarding a text read aloud or from other diverse forms of media.

Local/National Standards:

National Academy of Sciences, National Science Education Standards:
NS.5-8.4: As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of the structure of the earth system.
NS.5-8.1: As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry; understandings about scientific inquiry.

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will:
1. Compare and contrast physical (or mechanical) weathering and chemical weathering.
2. Identify examples of physical (or mechanical) weathering and chemical weathering.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will:
1. Compare and contrast physical (or mechanical) weathering and chemical weathering.
2. Identify examples of physical (or mechanical) weathering and chemical weathering.

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Group Materials:
carbonated water
tap water
1-2 baby food jars
4 rock samples
2 pieces of limestone or chalk
permanent marker
2 pennies
2 antacid tablets
steel wool
2 sugar cubes
5 measuring cups or beakers
10 clear plastic cups
vinegar (white and brown)

Individual Student Materials:
activity sheets

Technology Resources Needed:

LCD projector
PowerPoint (see attachment)


Background: This lesson is intended to be used as part of a unit or in conjunction with other lessons on weathering and erosion. It assumes that students have already been introduced to weathering and that they understand that there are two forms of weathering: physical (also referred to as mechanical or chemical). As students complete these activities, they will learn more about what happens during each type of weathering. In physical weathering, rocks are broken down into smaller pieces without changing their chemical makeup – tearing a piece of paper into smaller pieces. An example of physical weathering would be a cracked sidewalk. In chemical weathering, rocks are broken down by chemical actions that change their makeup – burning a piece of paper and having it change into ashes. An example of chemical weathering is rust on outdoor furniture. The activities in this lesson follow the scientific method; therefore, students should be familiar with its steps.

Preparation: Before beginning, the teacher will need to prepare a set of colored index cards (or construction paper cut to card size) to be used for grouping. You will need 4 cards each of 5-6 different colors (depending on the number of students). In the upper left of each card, write a number from 1-4; in the upper right, write a letter from A-D; in the lower left, draw a shape (circle, triangle, square, or rectangle); and in the lower right, write a direction (north, south, east, or west). Vary the way the cards are set up – for example, all of the red cards should not have the same numbers, letters, or shapes, etc. The cards may be laminated for durability.
After passing out the cards, you can then quickly group and/or regroup students by color, number, shape, letter, or direction.

1.)Show the Let's Get Physical PowerPoint (see attachment). As you view each picture, have students decide whether it's an example of chemical or physical weathering. Discuss what's happening in each picture that makes it chemical or physical. Tell students that they will be completing various activities that demonstrate the properties of chemical and physical weathering.

2.)Give each student a set of activity sheets. Group students using prepared index cards. Allow each group 25-30 minutes at each of the following stations (Each station involves more than one activity):
Station One:
Activity 1 - Effects of Freezing on Water
Activity 2 - Effects of Water on Rocks
Activity 3 - Effects of Water on Steel Wool
Station Two:
Activity 4 - Effects of Acid Rain on Copper
Activity 5 - Effects of Gravel on Sugar Cubes
Station Three:
Activity 6 - Effects of Water on Antacid Tablets
Activity 7 - Effects of Water and Vinegar on Limestone

3.)Regroup students and allow to discuss results with others in their groups. Then have the entire class discuss the activities - Which activities demonstrated chemical weathering? Which showed physical weathering? How do they know?

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Assessment Strategies

Review and/or grade the students’ activity sheets.


Have students design and conduct their own experiments (activities) using the new questions from their activity sheets.


Pair students with stronger students and allow them to redo activities that they didn't understand.

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.