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The Birth of Rocks    Mystery 4

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In this Mystery, students will learn about the types, causes, and dangers of landslides.

How could you survive a landslide?

Beginning Exploration (1 of 6)
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Beginning Exploration (2 of 6)


Why do you think all of the rocks come down at once?

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Beginning Exploration (3 of 6)
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Beginning Exploration (4 of 6)


Imagine you were trying to decide when and where to go camping in a hilly area.

What would you look for to decide whether it's a safe place to camp?

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Teacher note: Things to consider could include: -angle of the slope -amount of rainfall -how much root-wedging and frost-wedging has been going on -is the hill/mountain solid rock or bits of rock?

Beginning Activity: Slide City
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Beginning Exploration (5 of 6)

slide city image

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Beginning Exploration (6 of 6)

Slide City Design Show & Tell

After everyone finishes a design, your teacher will choose a few students to present their ideas. After each idea is presented, discuss:

1) What is one thing you really like about this idea?

2) Can you think of one thing that would improve this idea?

When you're done, check out these real world examples of how scientists stop landslides.

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Beginning Complete!

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading, and extension activity in the optional extras.

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Optional Extras

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & Exploration you just completed.
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Activity extension: Landslide stoppers!

Engineers have come up with many ways to protect homes and stop landslides. Here are a few of our favorites.

You can change the slope of the hillside with walls and terraces or make barriers designed to catch falling rocks.

To protect a road or house, you can build a rock shed like this one or design a radically different house like this one that’s shaped like a soccer ball.

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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

earthquake fissure by Gerry Thomasen , used under CC BY
flooding by U.S. Geological Survey
tornado by Justin Hobson , used under CC BY-SA
wildfire by John McColgan
falling rock by ArtBrom , used under CC BY-SA
LA skyline by Nserrano , used under CC BY-SA
lightning storm by Mary Qin , used under CC BY
thunder storm by Sarah Coyne , used under CC BY
Devore debris flow event by Mr. Davis (via USGS) , used under CC BY
landslide by Liz Roll
lightening storm by Dana Le
Taiwan boulder collapse by Lai Hong-wei (via Greg Draven) , used under CC BY
Hurricane Ridge by Ken Lund , used under CC BY-SA
rocky slope by LHOON , used under CC BY-SA
Bow Lake by Florian Fuchs , used under CC BY
Ofen Pass by mstefano80 , used under CC BY-SA
Landslide in Japan by Monty Mon , used under CC BY
landslide in Washington state by USGS
tent at High Shelf Camp by JJ Harrison , used under CC BY-SA
house by David Sawyer , used under CC BY-SA
landslide in Conchita by USGS
land management by Bureau of Land Management , used under CC BY
Post-it notes by Alan Stanton , used under CC BY-SA
note pad by Paul Williams , used under CC BY