In this fun and easy geology science experiment, we’re going to compare and contrast weathering and eroding by creating a really cool demonstration.

  • Gelatin (beef or colorless gelatin will both work fine)
  • Two bowls of equal size that are deep enough to hold two cups of material
  • Cooking spray
  • Rocks
  • Sand
  • Baking pan


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  1. Spray the inside of each bowl with cooking spray.
  2. Fill one of the bowls about three quarters full of sand. This will be our erosion model.
  3. Stack rocks in the other bowl, ensuring they do not breach the rim of the bowl. This will be our weathering model.
  4. Now, using adult assistance and supervision, bring two cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and whisk in one half a cup of gelatin.
  5. Let the gelatin mixture cool and rest for several minutes.
  6. Next you will pour the gelatin into each bowl, filling each bowl to the rim.
  7. Do not disturb the bowl with the rocks but use a knife or utensil to slowly stir the gelatin into the sand.
  8. Place both bowls in the refrigerator to cool overnight.
  9. Once the gelatin mountains have solidified, carefully dump each mountain out into the baking pan. You may need to use a knife to gently cut around the edges to free your mountains from the bowls.
  10. Now, have an adult boil some water and then have the adult pour the boiled water over each model for ten seconds each.
  11. Observe how the weathering model is effected versus the erosion model.
  12. Now have the adult repeat pouring the boiling water over each model in ten second intervals, observing and noting the effect each time.
  13. When the sand is moved by natural forces, which in this case is the pouring boiled water, it is called erosion. 
  14. When a rock is changed or broken but stays where it is, it is called weathering. This is demonstrated when the gelatin "mountain" surrounding our rocks is removed but our rocks stayed in place. If the pieces of weathered rock eventually are moved away, it would now be an example of erosion. 


Nature's Sculptors: Fun Facts about Weathering and Erosion


Here are some fun facts about the difference between weathering and erosion:


  1. Weathering is the process of breaking down rocks and minerals into smaller pieces, while erosion is the movement and transportation of those smaller pieces.
  2. Weathering can occur through physical, chemical, and biological processes, such as freeze-thaw cycles, acid rain, and the actions of plants and animals.
  3. Erosion, on the other hand, is typically caused by natural forces like water, wind, and ice that carry away the weathered material and reshape the Earth's surface.
  4. Weathering can happen in place, meaning the rocks or minerals stay in the same location but break down over time, while erosion involves the transportation of the weathered material to a new location.
  5. Weathering and erosion work together to shape our landscapes, creating features like canyons, valleys, and coastlines.
  6. Weathering and erosion play an important role in the formation of soil, as weathered materials mix with organic matter to create a fertile layer for plants to grow.
  7. Both weathering and erosion are natural processes that have been shaping the Earth's surface for millions of years.

Remember, weathering breaks down rocks, while erosion moves the broken pieces away. Together, they create the stunning landscapes we see all around us!


I hope you enjoyed this super quick tutorial and had fun investigating and exploring weathering and eroding. 
Pro tip: Use this activity to create some excitement around discussions or lessons about weathering, erosion, geology, and more!
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  1. What is the main difference between weathering and erosion? a) Weathering involves the movement of rocks, while erosion breaks them down. b) Weathering breaks down rocks, while erosion moves the broken pieces. c) Weathering and erosion are the same processes. d) Weathering occurs in rivers, while erosion occurs in deserts.

Correct answer: b) Weathering breaks down rocks, while erosion moves the broken pieces.

  1. Which of the following is an example of weathering? a) Water carrying sediment downstream b) Wind blowing sand dunes c) Ice melting and refreezing, causing cracks in a rock d) Waves crashing against a cliff

Correct answer: c) Ice melting and refreezing, causing cracks in a rock

  1. What role do weathering and erosion play in the formation of soil? a) Weathering creates soil, while erosion carries it away. b) Weathering and erosion have no effect on soil formation. c) Weathering and erosion break down rocks, which then mix with organic matter to form soil. d) Weathering moves soil from one location to another.

Correct answer: c) Weathering and erosion break down rocks, which then mix with organic matter to form soil.