Joint Earth Science Education Initiative - weathering and erosion


Examines the ways in which water can weather rocks, by solution and by freeze‑thaw. Simulations of erosion by running water and by wind are also provided.

Type of Activity

group work



Age Group

Primary to 14 years

Hands-on practical activities or ideas for front of class demonstrations


If you teach primary science, click the headings below to find out how to use this resource:

Skill development

Children will develop their working scientifically skills by:

  • Selecting and planning the most appropriate ways to answer science questions, recognising and controlling variables where necessary, including:
    • Carrying out comparative tests.
  • Drawing conclusions and raising further questions that could be investigated, based on their data and observations.
  • Using appropriate scientific language and ideas to explain, evaluate and communicate their methods and findings.

Learning outcomes

Children will:

  • Compare and group together different kinds of rocks on the basis of their appearance and simple physical properties.

Concepts supported

Children will learn:

  • That rocks can be weathered and eroded in different ways.
  • That the properties and formation of rocks can determine how rocks are affected by the different types of weathering.
  • What the terms ‘porous’ and ‘permeable’ mean, and how these properties can lead to phenomena such as pot holes.

Suggested activity use

Activities 1 to 4 can be done as a whole-class investigations set up as a carousel. Alternatively, groups of children could carry out the individual activities and feedback their findings to the rest of the class. Activity 5 is great for stimulating discussions; however, it will need to be carried out as a demonstration due to the health and safety risks involved.

These activities are a good starting point for leading onto learning about fossils and sedimentary rocks.

Practical considerations

If the activities were to be carried out as a carousel, then a whole afternoon would probably be required.

Copper(II) sulfate can be difficult to acquire in primary schools. Copper(II) sulfate is harmful as a solid or a concentrated solution.

A thorough risk assessment and other health and safety considerations will need to be taken into account, particularly with the use of copper(II) sulfate in activity 5.