Tag Archives: messy learning

Getting messy to get to grips with rivers

I don’t know about yours, but sometimes my students struggle with visualising what features and processes look like in real life. Mention a cross-section or long profile of a river and you’re likely to see a mass of blank faces. Having checked through my year 10 books at the weekend I noticed a lot were struggling with the concept of river transportation, how sediment varies along the course, and how the river profile changes. So I decided to get a bit messy.

After a nice walk with the dog, I collected a load of different material from a nearby river (with some substitutes from my garden to top it up!). When students came in to the class they were working in groups. Each group had:

1 x A2 sugar paper

A Selection of felt pens / glue / sellotape

1 x bag of likely river materials (a mixture of sand, mud, silt, shingle, different sized pebbles, twigs)

1 x plastic wallet filled with selection of keywords (e.g. traction, suspension, river cliff, meander, deposition, etc,.)

1 x image of large boulders with a scale (I wasn’t going to carry any boulders in now was I?!)

I set students the challenge of using the materials and resources to create a 3d cross-section of a river, showing how sediment varies along the profile of a river. They had to annotate the cross-section with keywords and describe what happens in the different courses. They then went around and evaluated each other’s work. The follow-up after the messiness was a piece of extended writing with a bingo element.

Some images of their work are below:

‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.’ (Benjamin Franklin)