Finding Slope

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Resource Type:Classroom Activities; Curricula and Instruction
Grade Level:
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Organization:American Geosciences Institute (AGI); Earth Science Week (ESW); Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)
Summary:Earth scientists play an important, if largely invisible, role in many aspects of our daily lives, such as building homes or growing food. For example, geoscientists help determine which locations would be best for undertaking these vital activities. The slope of the soil is an important soil property to consider when building or planting. The slope gradient is the angle of incline or decline, expressed in the percent of rise or fall of the soil surface from horizontal over a distance of 100 feet. Soil slope affects the flow of water that can erode the soil. It also affects machinery use, building construction, plantings, maintenance, and on-site waste disposal systems using septic tanks (because seepage can occur down-slope of an absorption field). Various activities are best suited to specific slope classes (see sidebar). For home construction, for instance, a “gently sloping” slope of 2-6 % is preferred. If the slope is too flat, water doesn't drain away from the house. If the slope is too steep, erosion and soil stability can be a problem.
Earth Science Big Ideas:Big Idea 8
NGSS Discplinary Core Ideas:ESS2.C; ESS3.A; ESS3.B; LS2.C
NGSS Performance Expectations:HS-ESS2-5; HS-ESS3-1; HS-ESS3-2; MS-LS2-5
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering); Engaging in argument from evidence; Planning and carrying out investigations
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation; Stability and change; Structure and function
Subjects: earth science week; soils
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