The Art of Erosion

By Pam Adams’s 7th Grade LA Class at North Duplin Junior-Senior High School

Mt. Olive, NC, United States

A collaborative STEM project combined the subjects of language arts, art, science, math, and social studies. We asked these driving questions:

  • How have advances in biotechnology and agri-science affected society?
  • How can we solve the flooding problem in front of the art room in an artistic, environmentally friendly way?

“Press Release!”

To answer the questions, the seventh grade class of North Duplin Junior-Senior High School was challenged to stop flooding in a certain area. We had to solve the problem using a form of art called Earth Art. We were allotted three weeks at 45 minutes each day to solve the problem. A grant of $1,000 was given to our class to fund the art project.

Before doing anything else, we measured the problem area. The next steps were finding out what materials we could use and making blueprints of the area’s design.

We came up with several ideas but ended up combining our two favorites into one plan due to the limited amount of supplies. Lastly, the supplies were ordered, and we waited for them to arrive.

Working the Problem

When we got the supplies we went straight to work:

  1. carrying buckets of sand to the area
  2. layering one ton of sand and spreading it using yard sticks
  3. spreading one ton of pea gravel over the sand
  4. marking the area where the 0.25 tons of lava rock would go
  5. laying the rock in that marked area
  6. layering on top some stepping stones painted by the high-schoolers
  7. decorating with a sculpture of birds we created
  8. putting out a few bird houses
  9. calculating the area’s volume as 105,471.58 cubic inches

No More Flooding

In conclusion, we have created a masterpiece that solved the flooding outside the art room. With dedication, the problem came to a solution, because we greatly reduced the amount of standing water. The water level decreased from six inches to two inches. After all the hard work, we hope our project is enjoyed by our fellow students at North Duplin Junior-Senior High School.

Have a change to suggest for this story? We’d love for you to submit it!

stilt fisherman in Sri Lanka
Stilt fisherman in Sri Lanka


Math Resources
  1. How was the math volume area computation derived?
  2. How many tons of materials were used in total?
  3. How much time was spent on this project in total?
  4. Look up average prices for sand, pea gravel, and lava rock. Compute how much was spent to buy these materials.
  5. How many square feet was the area? How many square yards?
  6. Imagine the area was 200,000 square inches. How much would the project cost if the original project costs $1,000?
Extension Questions

Erosion can occur for several reasons. Soil naturally wears away, but human activity can speed up the process.

  1. Why do you suppose erosion was happening at this school?
  2. Are there any areas eroding at your school? If so, what could you do about them? 
Explore Further
  1. Information about Earth Art
  2. Images of different kinds of erosion
  3. Website of North Duplin Junior-Senior High School
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