Activity Overview

Grades: 3rd-5th
Time: 30 minutes to one hour
Adult support needed? Self-guided student activity, will need help finding materials and a good spot to do the activity. 

Ready for a challenge? Let’s stop stream bank erosion. Erosion is the movement of sand, soil or rocks from one place to another. Erosion of stream banks can make streams unhealthy by making the water muddy. Muddy water makes it hard for fish to see and breathe. Muddy water also stops sunlight from reaching plants living in the water, making it harder for them to grow. In this activity, youth will:

  1. Observe how rain causes erosion either by watching videos or creating their own own model of erosion. 
  2. Learn why stream bank erosion makes a stream unhealthy.
  3. Design their own tool to help stop stream bank erosion. 

Virtual Activity Guide

Join CWC staff as they guide youth through the activity. Youth are taken step by step through the activity. You may choose to use the Virtual Activity Guide instead of the Activity Guide PDF as all the same information is provided in this Virtual Activity Guide.

This activity supports the following Next Generation Science Standards:

  • 4-ESS2-1. Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation. 
  • 4-ESS3-2. Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.  

Materials Needed:

  • Virtual Activity Guide (see above) or downloadable Activity Guide: Let’s Stop Erosion Design Challenge
  • Plastic container/pan
  • Scissors
  • Sand, soil or small beads
  • Cup
  • Water
  • Paper and colored pens
  • Arts and crafts items (optional)
  • Building materials such as: straws, popsicle stics, tape, construction paper, old clothes, sticks, grass, leaves, string, plastic wrap, etc. (optional)

Materials Needed

Youth may choose to use the Virtual Activity Guide (see above) or the below downloadable Activity Guide. Both resources will guide the student through the activity.

Click here to download your activity guide (English)

Haga clic aquí para descargar su guía de actividades (español)


1. View or print the worksheet. No printer? No problem! View the worksheet online and grab blank paper to follow along.

2. Observe and/or Build: Follow worksheet directions to observe and/or build a model of erosion to observe how erosion is caused by rain. If you are making your own model, follow the instructions in this video by SciShow Kids:

If you aren’t making your own model, watch these two videos by Tausif Sarwar and The Good Kid to observe erosion:

3. Read and Learn: Continue reading in the worksheet to learn about how stream bank erosion makes streams unhealthy and three tools to stop erosion.

4. Take Action: Design a tool to stop erosion. Follow worksheet directions to either draw a tool or build a physical model.

5. (Optional) Share a photo of your tool with us! Send an email to or tag @CoastalWatershedCouncil on Instagram or Facebook.

Thank you to the City of Santa CruzCity of CapitolaSanta Cruz County and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for supporting the Coastal Watershed Council’s Environmental Education programs.

To all of the Watershed Rangers students, teachers and program partners, although we will not be able to see you in classrooms, field trips and after school programs right now, we hope to provide you and your loved ones with online resources and activities during this time. We know that parents, teacher and lifelong learners are seeking ways to stay engaged and active, and we’re going to be working to bring activities to you through the Coastal Watershed Council blog. Please share these resources and activities with friends, neighbors and parents groups and stay tuned for more.

Additional resources:

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