Back to : Avalanches Main Page

Project work 2: peas and raisins

This project investigates piles of different substances. You should try the activities in Part A first, then quantify what you see. Suggestions are given in Part B. Try to find your own way to quantify the scale of movement you see, and graph it in some way. Part C gives extension work.

Part A

  • Choose as many different types of substance which will form a pile to work with in this project, eg. peas, raisins, sand, gravel - be imaginative!
  • Decide what weight of peas, etc, makes a pile which will cover a reasonable area on a chessboard or squared paper. Start with peas, say, and drop tablespoonfuls of peas through a funnel held in a fixed position, seeing how many squares on the chessboard or paper are covered each time. You'll have to decide what you mean by "covered". Note when something happens, and decide whether it is a "small", "medium" or "large" event (again, you'll have to decide what small, medium and large mean in this context.
  • Repeat this with other substances, and see if and how it is different.
  • Repeat with mixtures of substances, half and half first, then try different proportions of each. See what difference this makes.
  • Graph the area of the board or paper that is covered, against the number of tablespoonfuls for each mix, then do the same for the height of the pile.
  • Look at the angle the pile makes with the chessboard. How does this vary with the number of tablespoonfuls?

Part B

  • Try to quantify how big the events are - aim to come up with your own method for doing this
  • To get you started, you could work with the total area covered, or the surface area of the cone which changes, or the angle in degrees that is involved in an avalanche

Part C

  • Choose something much smaller than peas or raisins, such as pudding rice, lentils ... and mix with the peas and raisins. Investigate what effect different proportions make. Try to analyse this as you have done with the other parts of this project