In this experiment you will investigate the effects that glaciers, rivers of ice, have on the landscape, such as forming trenches and moraines, arc-shaped ridges of rocky debris. Before you begin, make an educated guess about the outcome of this experiment based on your knowledge of glaciers. This educated guess, or prediction, is your hypothesis. A hypothesis should explain these things:
A hypothesis should be brief, specific, and measurable. It must be something you can test through observation. Your experiment will prove or disprove whether your hypothesis is correct. Here is one possible hypothesis for this experiment: "Ice flow causes sediment erosion."
In this case, the variable you will change is the presence of an ice flow, and the variable you will measure is the movement of soil in the ice flow's path. You expect the ice flow to cause erosion.
As a control experiment, you will set up one tray of sand with no ice flow in it. That way, you can determine whether the sand moves even with no ice flow. If the sand moves under the ice flow, but not in the control tray, your hypothesis will be supported.
30 minutes to set up; 5 minutes a day to add water over a 30-day period.
Organize your data on a chart that shows the sand levels in both trays at the beginning and the end of the experiment. Compare your end results. Did the ice flow move sediment? Did erosion take place in the control tray? Write a paragraph summarizing what you found.
You can change the variables in this experiment by using different soils. You might try top soil or a more rocky soil. Also, you can change the angle of the slope and see how the depth of the trench is affected. Gravity plays a large role in soil movement. The steeper the slope, the greater the pull of gravity.
Source: Experiment Central. U·X·L, 2000.