Wind Erosion: Blown Away


BACKGROUND

The year was 1933. Bill's family had been farming on the Great Plains of Oklahoma for several decades. It had been hard work at first to clear the fields of the native grasses because the roots firmly held the plants in the soil. Then every year his family, as well as all the neighboring farmers, plowed the fields and planted their crops. There had been many years of successful harvests because the rainfall had been plentiful. But things now had changed. The rains had not come for several years. A vast area of the Great Plains was experiencing a severe drought -- there had been little rain. Bill could not believe what he was seeing now. Great clouds of brown billowed in the sky, engulfing everything. The airborne dirt even found its way into houses. It was hard to breathe.  What Bill's family, and all who lived in the Great Plains during the 1930s, experienced has become known as the Dust Bowl. Because of drought and farming practices that did not properly care for the land that was farmed, winds blew away the fertile topsoil and ruined crops. Previous to the time that farming developed in the area, the well-rooted native grasses had protected the soil during drought years. After the Dust Bowl, it took years for the land to recover after good soil conservation measures were learned and practiced. What happened during the Dust Bowl was an extreme case of wind erosion. On a smaller scale, wind erosion can be observed and measured in more limited areas.

INVESTIGATION    

PLACE TO BEGIN:
How can wind erosion be observed and measured? How do planted and unplanted areas compare in the amount of wind erosion? From what direction does most of the wind erosion come? 

MATERIALS:
3x5 lined index cards, double-sided and regular tape, small stakes (such as wooden dowel or bamboo garden stakes), magnifying glass 

DIRECTIONS:
Experiments should be undertaken at times without rain. Prepare a number of measuring cards ahead of time by completely covering the lined side of the index card with double-sided tape. Avoid touching the sticky part of the card as much as possible. Fasten each card to a small stake. Place the the stakes in the ground in the area to be analyzed for wind erosion (preferrably an open area exposed to wind). Place the cards so that the sticky side faces in different directions. Record the location and direction the card faced for each site. After a period of time, collect the cards and carefully remove them from the stakes.
Using a magnifying glass, observe the particles of dirt/dust that have stuck to the cards. If available, observe the particles with a microscope. Count the number of particles falling within one lined space on the card (or on the whole card if there are few particles). Be consistent in how the particles are counted. Find out what characterized the places or orientation of the card(s) where there was the greatest amount of dirt collected.

GOING FURTHER:
What types of soil are most susceptible to wind erosion? [A blow drier or fan could be used to make "wind".]
How can wind erosion be reduced?

DEVOTIONAL  

Read Ephesians 4:11-16. This section of Scripture relates to the unity and purpose of the body of Christ, the Church. Individually, members of the Church have little ability to fulfill the commission given to believers by Christ, that is, to reach out to the whole world with the Good News of the Gospel. But, together as a unified Body that has grown in spiritual maturity, much can be accomplished. To grow requires faithfulness to the Truth that God has given in His Word which provides instruction about the person and work of God and His will for our lives. Ephesians 4:14 describes what can happen if believers are not firmly anchored in the Word of God. They are blown about by whatever ideas are thrown their way.

APPLICATION QUESTIONS: 
1. How much time do you spend reading God's Word and thinking about God's will for your life?
2. What are some of the ideas that you hear that are not in agreement with what the Bible says?
3. What can you do to be a strong Christian and help build up your church?


CREATIVE ACTIVITY

Make a sand painting. Collect and prepare sand ahead of time. Either collect sand from different sources with different shades of color (e.g. beach, sandbox, etc.) or dye samples with food coloring. Use a sheet of cardboard or heavy tagboard as your artboard. Using thinned craft glue, paint a swath or design of glue on the artboard. Next blow or sprinkle some sand over the area. After it has dried, collect the sand that hasn't stuck to your sand painting. Repeat the procedure with other shades or colors of sand.



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