Episode 2309 Lesson Plans: Great Lakes gradients

Episode 2309 Lesson Plans: Great Lakes gradients
October 11, 2023 Gary Abud Jr.

This lesson will explore the phenomenon of natural gradient, as students learn about how the natural flow of the Great Lakes landscape can provide a smooth path for mountain bike riding. They will explore the physics of accelerated motion, explore the math of slope, and investigate existing and planned trails in the Great Lakes before building a slow, smooth-rolling trail to move marbles, modeling the design of mountain biking trails.

  • Know how the gradient of a hill is calculated
  • Understand how gradient relates to acceleration
  • Be able to engineer a circuitous path to allow a marble to roll downhill from one location to another at the slowest speed possible

View the entire lesson plan including teacher background information, worksheets and more below or download for free here.

Activity 1:

This activity is a video discussion of a Great Lakes Now segment about how natural gradients in the Great Lakes have been turned into epic mountain biking trailsDuring the video they need to jot down four things they took away from the video using the 4 Notes Summary Protocol.

Watch a Great Lakes Now Segment

Activity 2:

In this activity, students will read about how a new greenway trail in southeast Michigan aims to promote outdoor recreation, health benefits, and environmental awareness while creating a regional natural resource destination in southeast Michigan.

Read About the Detroit River Trail

Activity 3:

The purpose of this activity is to explore and understand the concept of accelerated linear motion by observing the motion of rolling balls on inclined ramps.

Investigating Accelerated Motion

Activity 4:

In this engineering challenge, students will simulate the experience of a smooth mountain bike trail ride, by building a series of interconnected ramps using household materials to guide a marble from one spot in the classroom to a distant location. The goal is to create a track that allows the marble to travel at the slowest, smoothest speed.

Engineering a Slow Marble Run

Activity 5:

The purpose of this activity is for students to research and analyze new and planned trails in the Great Lakes Region in order to develop persuasive argumentation skills through a debate about which trail is, or will be, the best in the region.

Great Lakes Trail Exploration and Debate

Learn all about Episode 2309: Trails and Wetlands on this month’s landing page.

If you use this lesson or any of its activities with your learners, we’d love to hear about it! Contact us with any feedback or questions at: GreatLakesNow@DPTV.org

Find all the Great Lakes Now educational materials HERE.


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