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How Were the Scablands Formed?

By Rita Januszyk and Alison Haas

How Were the Scablands Formed?

Earth & Space Science Instructional Materials Is Lesson Plan Elementary Grade 4

Unit Overview

Students-as-geologists investigate weathering and erosion. Students ask questions and find the driving question, "How were the Scablands formed?", when they observe the landforms of the Channeled Scablands of Washington State. 

Students plan and carry out investigations about weathering and erosion of rocks. Students argue that the cause of rocks breaking into smaller pieces is a process called weathering, and moving the broken pieces away (or someplace else) is a process called erosion. Students investigate water moving on the land with a physical model: the stream table system. They investigate moving water effects on the land-based on the angle of the slope and interpret data that moving water on greater angles causes more erosion. As a final investigation, students plan and carry out an investigation of how the different amounts of water affect the landforms that form and that when there’s a large amount of water, the effect on the landscape is significant.

Students develop a model of the Channeled Scablands' landscapes. Students use their model of the Scablands as a thinking tool to explain the answer to the driving question, "How were the Scablands formed?"


Link to Unit and Supporting Materials


Related Resources

Synthesizing Geologic Data into an Argument for Plate Tectonic Theory by Michele Schibuk

Deep Thinking Over Geologic Time: Understanding Fossils and Relative Dating by Joanna Richison, Deborah Herrington, and Stephen Mattox

Tried and True: Volcano! Investigating Plate Tectonics, Geologic Time, and the Rock Cycle by Renee Clary and James Wandersee

Making Everyday Phenomena Phenomenal by Okhee Lee

Beyond General-Purpose Talk Moves by Scott Grapin, Alison Haas, Marcelle Goggins, Lorena Llosa, and Okhee Lee

How Can Maps Help Us?


How Were the Scablands Formed? Grade 4 Life Science Unit was developed by:

  • Rita Januszyk and Alison Haas (unit writers)
  • Jennifer Whitten and the grade 4 students at Beaver Acres Elementary, Beaverton, Oregon
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