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Grade Level:
Sixth Grade-Eighth Grade
Subject:
Earth Science, Geography, Geology, Hydrology
Duration:
30 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 36
Setting:
computer lab
National/State Standards:
Colorado Science
6th grade: 3.1
8th grade 3.1, 3.2, 3.3

Overview

Students will explore how wind direction and topography influence the formation of sand dunes.

Objective(s)

Students will explore how wind direction and topography influence the formation of sand dunes.



Background

When we think about the processes that shape landscapes, we may see water and its ability to carve deep canyons, deposit great plains of sediment, or erode shorelines. We also may think of magma making mountains or of earthquakes rocking our world.

Yet the wind also has the grand ability to shape the landscape. Eolian science is where meteorology meets geology. Scientists who study sand seas-such as the dunefields of Great Sand Dunes-must understand how climate and ecosystems interact with geology. Then they begin to get a glimpse into the meaning behind these unmistakable masterpieces of natural art. And as researchers are discovering in all their work, eolian science is just another field of study in which the walls that divide the sciences are tumbling down.

The knowledge gained from eolian science is even being applied to a field of study that is out of this world! Astronomers and comparative planetologists are using their dune system knowledge to understand the landscape and even a bit about the weather on our planetary neighbor-Mars.

Explore Great Sand Dunes' web pages on dune types andcomponents of the sand system.



Materials

Computer(s) with Internet access



Procedure



Vocabulary

angle of repose, bimodal, cardinal directions, climate, eolian, geology, meteorology, multimodal, unimodal, wind regime