Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Change Agents

Karen Marler
Pasco County Schools


Students conduct experiments and complete observation logs about three erosive change agents and their effects on a variety of surfaces. They present their log information to others through a song, poem or skit.


The student understands the processes of weathering and erosion.


-Trench coat for teacher
-Detective hat
-Canvas bag large enough to hold fan, water jar, and baggie with ice
-Small battery-operated fan for teacher use
-Clear plastic jar of water
-Gallon-size baggies
-Ice cubes or chunks
-Large magnifying glass
-Sign: “What do these items have in common?”
-Chart paper
-Clue cards: earth, rivers, mountains, movement, valley, Change Agents
-Pictures of mountains, valleys, plains, deserts, oceans, lakes, rivers, ice caps
-Poster-size copy of Group Observations form (See Associated File)
-White sand
-Safety goggles
-Larger electric fan for teacher use
-Task Cards (See Associated File)
-Group Observations form, 2 per group (See Associated File)
-Shallow plastic pans
-White and colored sand
-Pebbles and/or rocks
-Paper cups
-Soft clay
-Change Agents Planning Sheet, one per group (See Associated File)
-Rubrics: Information Manager Rubric and Cooperative Workers Checklist (See Associated File)


1. Freeze ice chunks.
2. Prepare sign and clue cards. (Clues may include earth, rivers, mountains, movement, valley, etc. The final clue card should say “Change Agents.”)
3. Fill detective bag with fan, water in jar, magnifying glass, baggie with ice chunk, sign, clue cards and pictures of the earth's features (mountains, valleys, plains, deserts, oceans, lakes, rivers and ice caps).
4. Post chart paper and gather markers for recording.
5. Create poster-size Group Observations form (See Associated File) and laminate for future use.
6. Duplicate and laminate Task Cards. (See Associated File)
7. Duplicate Group Observations form, 2 per group. (See Associated File)
8. Prepare enough experiment boxes for each small group to have one. For the water experiment, include a shallow pan with plain white sand covered by a layer of colored sand, paper cup with hole punched in bottom, small plastic jar or container for water, pebbles, rocks. For the ice experiment include a ball of soft clay, baggie with ice chunk, shallow pan, rocks and pebbles.
9. Duplicate Change Agents Planning Sheet, one per group. (See Associated File)
10. Duplicate rubrics, one for each group or poster-size for whole-group display. (See Associated File)


1. Enter the room wearing a trench coat and detective hat. Carry the canvas bag with a small battery-operated fan, a clear plastic jar of water, and a gallon baggie with a chunk of ice inside, a large magnifying glass, and a sign with the question, “What do these items have in common?”

2. Place the items from the bag on the table and observe them through the magnifying glass.

3. When students ask you what you are doing, place the sign on the table and read the sign to the students or ask for a volunteer to read the sign.

4. Chart student guesses.

5. Exhibit clue cards as needed. (Clues may include earth, rivers, mountains, movement, valley, etc.) Final clue card should say “Change Agents.”

6. Exhibit pictures of Earth’s features and name and discuss each (mountains, valleys, plains, deserts, oceans, lakes, rivers, ice caps). Review erosion and weathering. Share examples of each and list characteristics on the board.

7. Explain to the students that they are going to be detectives today and that they are going to discover how or why the items on the table are “Change Agents.”

8. Guide the observation by posting the poster-sized copy of the Group Observations form. (See Associated File) Model procedures by conducting the wind experiment. (See Wind Erosion Task Cards in Associated File for directions) Be sure to ask questions that help students make observations before, during and after the experiment.

9. Divide students into small groups.

10. Distribute items needed for experiments (experiment boxes) and presentations. Include Task Cards, Group Observations forms, Change Agents Planning Sheet, and rubrics.

11. Review the Change Agents Planning Sheet and rubrics. Discuss expectations for final presentations--each group presents their observation information about the Change Agents (wind, water, ice) and the two processes that shape the earth (erosion, weathering). The group decides whether to present this information through a song, poem or skit.

12. Monitor and assist student groups as they conduct experiments and plan presentations.


The attached rubrics are used to formatively assess student mastery of information related to processes that shape the earth. Students should be able to identify and explain the Change Agents and the processes or changes observed. Students will also be assessed on cooperative skills within their groups. They will need to exhibit on-task behavior, inside voices, and shared participation.
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