Big Idea 6: Earth Structures

Over geologic time, internal and external sources of energy have continuously altered the features of Earth by means of both constructive and destructive forces. All life, including human civilization, is dependent on Earth's internal and external energy and material resources.
General Information
Number: SC.7.E.6
Title: Earth Structures
Type: Big Idea
Subject: Science
Grade: 7
Body of Knowledge: Earth and Space Science

Related Benchmarks

This cluster includes the following benchmarks.

Related Access Points

This cluster includes the following access points.

Independent

SC.7.E.6.In.1
Identify that Earth has three layers (crust, mantle, and core) and describe the inside (core) as the hottest layer.
SC.7.E.6.In.2
Recognize that slow changes, such as mountain-building, and fast changes, such as volcanic eruptions, are caused by shifts below Earth’s surface.
SC.7.E.6.In.3
Demonstrate how older rock layers are deposited at the bottom before younger layers (Law of Superposition).
SC.7.E.6.In.4
Identify physical evidence, such as fossils and sedimentary rock, which show how Earth has changed over a very long period of time.
SC.7.E.6.In.5
Recognize that humans have had an impact on Earth, such as polluting the air and water and expanding urban areas and road systems.

Supported

SC.7.E.6.Su.1
Recognize that the surface of Earth is called the crust.
SC.7.E.6.Su.2
Recognize that mountains change size and shape over a long period of time.
SC.7.E.6.Su.3
Recognize that fossils are remains or imprints of living things from long ago.
SC.7.E.6.Su.4
Recognize the effects of earthquakes and volcanoes.
SC.7.E.6.Su.5
Recognize that polluting the air and water can harm Earth.

Participatory

SC.7.E.6.Pa.1
Recognize the ground as the outer surface (crust) of Earth.
SC.7.E.6.Pa.2
Discriminate between surface features of ground on Earth, such as rocky/sandy, flat/hilly, rough/smooth, or solid/liquid.
SC.7.E.6.Pa.3
Recognize that ground on the Earth’s surface changes over time.
SC.7.E.6.Pa.4
Distinguish between clean and dirty water.

Related Resources

Vetted resources educators can use to teach the concepts and skills in this topic.

3D Modeling

Wind Farm Design Challenge:

In this engineering design challenge, students are asked to create the most efficient wind turbine while balancing cost constraints. Students will apply their knowledge of surface area and graphing while testing 3D-printed wind farm blades. In the end, students are challenged to design and test their own wind farm blades, using Tinkercad to model a 3D-printable blade.

Type: 3D Modeling

Lesson Plans

Can You Hear My Voice?- Lesson 3:

This is the final lesson of 3 within an integrated civics unit. In this lesson, students will create a simulation program in Scratch in which they walk through the steps to address an environmental issue either at the local or state level.

Type: Lesson Plan

Can You Hear My Voice?-Lesson 2:

This is lesson 2 in a 3-lesson unit plan. In this integrated civics lesson, students will choose an environmental issue, determine whether it should be addressed locally or by the state, research public policy alternatives, identify an appropriate government agency and/or representative to address the issue and determine a course of action. Additionally, students will learn how computer technology can be used to aid in civic action.

Type: Lesson Plan

Florida's Rock Cycle (Part 3): The Weathering and Erosion of Coquina and the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument:

In this integrated lesson plan, students will reflect on their observations of weathering and erosion of Castillo de San Marco National Monument (from lesson 2) and the roles and responsibilities of those involved in its preservation. As a final product, they will draft a letter to the government official/agency responsible for the monument, detailing what they have learned about the Castillo monument, how the science of weathering and erosion apply, why it is important to prioritize restoration/preservation of the monument, and their ideas for better maintenance based on their research. As a culminating activity, students will peer review each others’ letters for improvement.

Type: Lesson Plan

Repercussions of Human Impact:

Students will discuss the consequences of human impacts on Earth and then teach a topic to other classmates in this integrated lesson plan.

Type: Lesson Plan

Cruise Ship Port Commission Meeting:

Students will debate the environmental and human impacts associated with building a cruise ship port in their county, exploring the roles and responsibilities that the scientific community, individuals, and interest groups play in influencing government policy with this integrated lesson plan.

Type: Lesson Plan

Human Impacts on Earth:

Students will evaluate whether various human activities impact the Earth and then discuss our civic duties and obligations to our Earth.  They will also use scenarios to examine whose responsibility it is to protect the Earth from human impact in this integrated lesson plan.

Type: Lesson Plan

Florida's Rock Cycle (Part 2): Weathering and Erosion of Castillo de San Marcos National Monument:

In this integrated lesson plan, students will investigate the weathering and erosion of coquina rock in the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument via Google Earth and will research the history of the monument and the government agency responsible for its preservation.

Type: Lesson Plan

Human Impact on Marine Water Quality:

Students will brainstorm and illustration various human impacts on marine ecosystems and who is responsible for protecting these systems, in this integrated lesson plan.

Type: Lesson Plan

Cruise Ship Waste and Environmental Policy:

Students learn about, summarize, and discuss US regulation and international policy as it relates to cruise ship waste dumping in this integrated lesson plan.

Type: Lesson Plan

Human Impact and Civic Duty to Earth:

Students will brainstorm and share knowledge about human impacts on Earth and their civic duty to protect the Earth through anchor charts (round robin style), discussion, and a worksheet in this integrated lesson plan.

Type: Lesson Plan

Florida's Rock Cycle (Part 1): Weathering and Erosion on Your School Campus:

Students will identify signs of weathering and erosion on their school campus in a fieldwork investigation. They will then identify the appropriate school/district official to contact about their concerns, and create a professional email to that official advocating for the maintenance and repair of their school.

Type: Lesson Plan

Help! They are damming the river!:

Students will observe a teacher demonstration of a simple stream table that illustrates the results of damming the flow of a river.  Next students will read position statements of stakeholders concerning a newly proposed dam of a local river. Given a list of government agencies, students will work in a group to determine which agency can best address their concerns about the potential dam.

Type: Lesson Plan

A Rocky Debate: How do coastal structures reduce rates of coastal erosion?:

Students will be tasked with analyzing various methods of protecting coasts from erosion. Students will review a dataset with logistics about each type of coastal structure. Students will rank which structures they feel should be utilized to best protect a local beachfront town. The students will write a letter to the local government to persuade them on which structure should be used. Students will be challenged to think critically, analyze information, and work collaboratively in this model eliciting activity.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Clean the pier- To fish or not to fish?:

Students will examine the impact humans can have on the water quality at a popular public fishing pier and ways that citizens can interact with the government to address cleaning the pier in this integrated MEA. Students will analyze the revenue from the fishing pier, peak visiting times, and amounts of marine debris accumulated to determine the pros/cons of closing the fishing pier more frequently to clean the marine debris. Students will research which government agency must be contacted with a proposal.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Clean It Up:

Students will help a volunteer coordinator choose cleanup projects that will have the greatest positive impact on the environment and the community.  They will apply their knowledge of how litter can impact ecosystems along with some math skills to make recommendations for cleanup zones to prioritize.  Students will explore the responsibilities of citizens to maintain a clean environment and the impact that litter can have on society in this integrated Model Eliciting Activity.  

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations.  Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

The Surprising World of Complex Systems:

This lesson introduces students to complex systems and to basic concepts from the field of system dynamics that lie at the heart of systems thinking. These concepts include stocks and flows, feedback loops, unintended consequences, and the basic principle that the behavior of complex systems can best be understood by looking at the system as a whole, and specifically by analyzing the system’s underlying structure. The lesson introduces these topics through an immersion in (and a role-play simulation of) the dynamics of urban recycling systems, many of which have been thrown into crisis in the past two years. Through this current-affairs example of complex systems in crisis, we identify some key structural features that help to explain how these systems behave over time. We also discover how well-intentioned action can cause negative unintended consequences when we try to intervene in a complex system without understanding how it operates.

Type: Lesson Plan

Sea Level Rise: The Ocean's Uplifting Experience:

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the concept of sea level rise as it occurs through climate change by having them examine 3 specific parameters:  ice distribution, thermal expansion, and analyzing and interpreting data.  The lesson and activities within the lesson were designed using the three dimensions of the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards – specifically crosscutting concepts, science and engineering practices, and disciplinary core ideas. While there isn’t any required pre-requisite learning required for this lesson, a general understanding of sea-level rise, glaciers, and climate may be beneficial to students. During classroom breaks, pairs of students will develop/discuss their models, revise their interpretations of their models or data, and think-pair-share their thoughts on the investigation segments.

Type: Lesson Plan

Gr. 7 Lesson 3-Groundwater Pollution:

Students will be able to explain how aquifers can become polluted on the land surface and identify human impacts. 

Type: Lesson Plan

Gr. 7 Lesson 2-The Everglades and Aquifers:

Students will be able to explain what an aquifer is and why aquifers are important for us and the Everglades. Students will also be able to explain how aquifers can become polluted. 

Type: Lesson Plan

Gr. 7 Lesson 1-Discovering What Wetlands Do:

Students will be able to 

  • Describe how human impacts have had an effect on the Everglades, such as water quality and altered flow of water 
  • Explain 3 important wetlands functions 
  • Write an informative text to examine the multi-step procedures and how they relate to human impacts on the Everglades using new vocabulary in context 

Type: Lesson Plan

Bling Builders: Diamonds and the Rock Cycle:

This is a 2-3+ day unit lesson plan that uses Diamonds as a case study into the Rock Cycle, and also incorporates other concepts from Geology and Physics.

Type: Lesson Plan

Layers of the Earth:

Students will model and describe the layers of the Earth, including the crust, lithosphere, asthenosphere, mantle, outer core, and inner core through several hands-on activities. Students will model the different layers of Earth's interior and differentiate between benefits and limitations of the models.

Type: Lesson Plan

Deforestation:

In this 5E lesson, students will collect data through a simulation game on deforestation and be able to describe how humans have impacted a simulated forest. Students will learn about subsistence farming and its role in rain forest (primary) forest deforestation.

Type: Lesson Plan

Radioactive Dating Lesson 4 - Recursive Division :

This lesson introduces students to the idea of recursive division and its application to radioactive dating with a worksheet and Scratch programming. This is the final lesson in the Radioactive Dating Unit.

Type: Lesson Plan

Radioactive Dating Lesson 3 - Modeling :

Students will further explore the idea of radioactive dating through a drawing activity and creating a model simulation in Scratch.

Type: Lesson Plan

Radioactive Dating Lesson 2:

Students will learn about the importance of using multiple radioactive dating methods to date an artifact as well as learn about the if programming control structure. This is Lesson 2 in the Radioactive Dating Unit and will begin the experience in coding a program to illustrate student understanding of radioactive dating.

Type: Lesson Plan

Radioactive Dating Lesson 1:

Read about a recent uncovering of mammoths to engage students in a discussion of radioactive dating. This is the first lesson in a unit of 4 lessons that integrates science, math, and computer science standards to teach the concept of half-lives and radioactive dating.

Type: Lesson Plan

Netting 4 Bugs:

This is a STEM challenge in which students design and create a net to collect macroinvertebrates in simulated streams. Then students analyze the quality of their nets by the amount of macroinvertebrates they are able to collect. After testing, they will redesign to improve their nets. The final test will be done by evaluating a simulated stream's water quality. Students will conduct a simulated bioassessment of a stream by sampling macroinvertebrates and evaluating a stream's water quality using a pollution tolerance index. They learn about the human impact on waterways and the importance of using aquatic macroinvertebrates to monitor water quality.

Type: Lesson Plan

Medium Needed:

In this MEA, groups of students will evaluate the media for growing plants hydroponically in order to help restore some native species of the Everglades. Students will learn about hydroponics as an alternative agricultural practice, the rock cycle, types of landforms in Florida, and will use different methods to analyze data and arrive to conclusions, as well as present them in a detailed description of procedures and conclusions, including justification and evidence for each decision.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Radioactive Dating: Half-Life & Geologic Time:

In this Model Eliciting Activity (MEA), students must use their knowledge of radioactive dating and geologic time to select an effective elemental isotope to be used to date three rare specimens. This decision requires an understanding of the concept of a half-life and the benefits and limitations of radiometric dating. Students must complete mathematical calculations involving equations and operations with fractions and percentages. Students completing this MEA must develop two essays that respond in a professional manner to a client in the scientific industry.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Time Travelers: Measuring the Age of the Earth:

The student will collect and analyze data, collaborate and discuss their findings, compare their findings to one another, and apply their findings to unknowns. Students will build a timeline based on the masses of substances to develop a basic understanding of absolute age by radioactive dating and how it compares to relative age based on the Law of Superposition. Students will measure the mass of several objects which will represent "fossils." Each object's mass will represent a specific age of the object. Students will gain an understanding of how scientists use absolute dating to accurately determine the age of objects and how relative dating is used to generally determine the age of objects.

Type: Lesson Plan

Layers and Laws:

The students will identify patterns in fossils and explain their understanding of how rock layers are deposited. They will use the evidence from the activity to make inferences about what the Earth was like during the time the fossils existed. Students will develop an understanding of how fossils give scientists clues as to what the early Earth was like in the past. Students will also show how fossils can be used to relatively date rock layers using the Law of Superposition and index fossils.

Type: Lesson Plan

Sea Ice Analysis Grade 7:

The changing climate is an important topic for both scientific analysis and worldly knowledge. This lesson uses data collected by the National Snow and Ice Data Center to create and use statistical analysis as a tool to evaluate the sea ice loss. Students will use technology to quickly generate graphs for each month looking for trends, patterns, or deviations over time.

Type: Lesson Plan

Wolves of Yellowstone - Ecology & Human Impact:

In this MEA, students will decide how many wolves to introduce into Yellowstone National Park's ecosystem. The number of wolves could influence many factors, from the tourism industry to local farming businesses, as well as the populations of other species in the area. Students must choose to introduce the number of wolves they feel will be most beneficial to the preservation of Yellowstone National Park as determined by the mission statement of Yellowstone and the National Park Service.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

STEM-Water Filtration:

This is a STEM-Engineering Design Challenge lesson. Students will go through the process of creating a water filtration system using their knowledge of the impact that humans have on the Earth and percent change.

Type: Lesson Plan

Finding, Producing, and Moving Oil: Examining Effects on the Environment:

Oil is a natural resource of vital importance to nations around the world. In this lesson, students will read a short informational text that outlines the benefits and burdens of responsible use of oil, including what needs to be considered when exploring and drilling, when using hydraulic fracturing, and when transporting oil. The article also briefly discusses actions the U.S. took after several major oil spills to help better protect the environment in the future. This lesson is designed to support reading in the content area. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, and sample answer keys.

Type: Lesson Plan

Human Footprint and Albedo:

Students will learn that the human footprint can be a causal factor for high and low albedo which in turn can be contributors to deforestation, urbanization, erosion air and water quality and the change of water flow. Students will learn how to take albedo readings and see if they correlate to the aforementioned problem areas.

Type: Lesson Plan

Solar Powered MEA:

Students will explore ways in which energy conservation affects the environment.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Edible Plate Tectonics:

Using the 5E lesson plan template, students will explore the theory of plate tectonic movement by creating models with food to demonstrate the movement of the plates in plate tectonics.

Type: Lesson Plan

Rocks Makin' Rocks: Rock Cycle Simulation:

Students will participate in a simulation model of the rock cycle. Collecting data by throwing die, students will develop an understanding of the movement of atoms and rock particles through the rock cycle.

Type: Lesson Plan

Radiometric Dating:

In this activity, students model the process of radiometric dating, and apply basic mathematics skills to understand how scientists used the process of radioactive decay as a tool to learn about Earth's past.

Type: Lesson Plan

The Flow of Energy Through Earth :

In this lesson, students will be using a model of Earth to observe the flow of energy through different layers.

Type: Lesson Plan

Deforestation A Global Issue:

An interactive writing lesson that reinforces content area learning through argumentation.

Type: Lesson Plan

Human Impact On Life And The Ecological Processes In Each of Earth's Spheres:

Students will use their previous knowledge of the interactions of earth's atmosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere for this unit. They will explore different forms of human impacts such as urbanization, deforestation, desertification and erosion and learn how these impacts affect Earth's spheres. They will also learn what we can do to minimize this human impact.

Type: Lesson Plan

Everything is NOT Okeedokee in Okeechobee!:

Students will gain background knowledge and develop a greater understanding of how human impact has affected local waterways. Students will work collaboratively to develop and defend an argument about how urbanization and different types of pollution have resulted in water flow changes from Lake Okeechobee.

Type: Lesson Plan

The Layers of the Earth:

Students will learn that the Earth is made of different layers with varying compositions and characteristics. Students will complete 4 activities in the course of this lesson. The lesson is opened with a bellringer activity paired with the four corners strategy. Students then discover the characteristics of each of Earth's layers through a hands-on lab with accompanying lab sheet. The following day, students will create a model of the Earth's layers out of play dough. The students will then be summatively assessed on their understanding using an exit slip.

Type: Lesson Plan

"It's All Down Hill":

Students will be able to determine the cause/effects of deforestation and urbanization on the environment. Students will use inductive/deductive reasoning skills to determine how to correct the negative effects of human impact. This assignment involves: Direct instruction, recalling prior knowledge, group experiments, and a teacher-led demonstration that will allow students to see the effects of deforestation on the environment and how it (and other factors) can cause landslides first hand. Note: This lab will take at least 3-5 days of preparation before the lesson is started. Please refer to the "Complete Lesson" print out.

Type: Lesson Plan

The Candyville Mall Dilemma- Radioactive Dating:

The students will complete a hands-on activity using M&Ms to demonstrate the principles of radioactive decay. At the conclusion of this lesson, students will understand the term half-life and know how to utilize a graph of radioactive decay to approximate the age of a "fossil". This activity involves recording and graphing data as well as a short data analysis segment. This resource requires materials (M&Ms, Containers, & Calculators) in order to complete and is more fun for the students when they are allowed to eat after their data collection is complete.

Type: Lesson Plan

Earth Movers and Takers:

In this lesson, students are given a fictious town that has a number of problems with erosion that have been exaserbated by the people who live there. In groups students are required to draw the town and analyze the problem to create solutions for solving the town's problems with erosion.

Type: Lesson Plan

How BIG is your footprint?:

Through daily journal entries and analysis, students will come to understand how their daily habits are negatively impacting Earth and how they can change their activities to reduce the size of their impact.

Type: Lesson Plan

Nitrogen - Good, Bad and Ugly:

Students will explore the concept of the nitrogen cycle and its importance for living organisms by role playing and diagramming the paths nitrogen takes within its renewable cycle.

Type: Lesson Plan

Digging Deep Into The Earth:

This lesson will help students conceptualize the location and enormity of the layers of the Earth. Students will be able to identify both the physical and chemical properties of each layer and be able to describe the functions or processes of each. This will lay the foundation for the study of plate tectonics and the rock cycle. This lesson plan is intended to take 2 - 3 class periods but may be modified to meet the needs of individual classrooms.

Type: Lesson Plan

Sweet Superposition!:

This lesson addresses only the Law of Superposition portion and not radiometric dating. Students will investigate the correlation between rock layers and fossil age. Students will also become familiar with the Law of Superposition and apply to finding the relative age of excavated "fossils".

Type: Lesson Plan

Recycling: Are We Doing Our Part?:

Students will explore their understanding of human impacts on the environment, then relate it to how we must reuse, reduce, recycle. Next students will conduct a survey on recycling habits, create data displays using their collected data, draw conclusions, and present group's findings to the class.

Type: Lesson Plan

What's in the Water in Your Watershed?:

Students will work in groups to collect water from different areas in a watershed and measure the following characteristics: pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and temperature. Students then construct a water filtration apparatus and observe changes in the listed characteristics based on filtration. This activity guides the students to understanding the differences in water quality in various locations within the watershed through investigation and collaboration.

Prior to teaching the lesson, teachers should have a basic understanding of the watershed where the water will be collected. Detailed information can be obtained from the water management district. See for links to Florida's water management districts.

Ideally, the water should be collected by the students from a site on or near school property. Be sure to follow school and district guidelines for field work.

Type: Lesson Plan

Back to the Past with the Geologic Time Scale:

This lesson introduces the geologic time scale and the concept of time segments being divided by major events in Earth's history. It gives students an opportunity to place various fossils into appropriate periods, observe the change in the complexity of fossils and draw conclusions regarding the change. Students complete a brace map including the eras and periods showing their understanding of parts to the whole within the geologic time scale. On day 2, students research an organism of their choice and trace it back to their most basic relative. Students then create a final product, such as a brochure, timeline or a poster, demonstrating the change of the organism over time. Students will be provided with a rubric that will guide them while they work on the final product.

Type: Lesson Plan

Shake It Up:

After creating a series of simulated earthquakes with various magnitudes in a virtual manipulative online, the students will investigate liquefaction by shaking fishing weights on top of three types of soil. Upon completion of journal notes on earthquakes, students will write an essay explaining the cause of earthquakes, the ways energy from earthquakes moves, and the effects of earthquakes on the Earth's surface.

Type: Lesson Plan

Shake it up around the world:

ResourceID: 39599

This lesson will allow students to investigate the location of earthquakes and volcanoes throughout the world and determine how they relate to the tectonic plates.

Type: Lesson Plan

Water Troubles:

This Model Eliciting Activity (MEA) presents students with the real-world problem of contaminated drinking water.  Students are asked to provide recommendations for a non-profit organization working to help a small Romanian village acquire clean drinking water.  They will work to develop the best temporary strategies for water treatment, including engineering the best filtering solution using local materials.  Students will utilize measures of center and variation to compare data, assess proportional relationships to make decisions, and perform unit conversions across different measurement systems.

Type: Lesson Plan

Don't BLOW your vacation plans away!:

This lesson is student-led through small student-groups teaching the major components of volcanoes. Students get the opportunity to utilize and manipulate interactive technology to demonstrate their understanding of volcanic eruptions and apply it to their own learning/discovery of one specific volcano. This is lesson #4 (Volcanoes) of a four part sequential unit on Plate Tectonics: Lesson #1 is 45876 (Plate tectonics), Lesson #2 is 45856 (Earthquakes), and Lesson #3 is 45900 (Tsunamis).

Type: Lesson Plan

Are You Trembling with Excitement About Your Vacation?:

This is part two of a four part unit on Plate Tectonics. Lesson #1 (ID#45876), Lesson #2 (ID#45856), Lesson #3 (ID# 45900) and Lesson 4 (ID# 45984). This lesson can be done in three-five 45 minute class periods dependent on the students' abilities to work in small groups and stations. Students will be rotating through various stations to explore their understanding of earthquakes and plate tectonics. They will create their own map of tectonic plate boundaries, research 5 recent earthquakes, and more.

Type: Lesson Plan

Future Car - Energy and the Environment:

Students must choose which type of automotive power plant is the best choice for a car company to use in its upcoming eco-friendly model. The students must make this decision based on characteristics of each power plant, such as efficiency, production cost, and production energy. Students must decide what they feel makes the car most “ecological.” They may choose a very low-polluting car that is very difficult and costly to produce, or one that has more emissions, but uses very limited resources to develop. This lesson could be used to either as an introduction or a follow-up to a lesson about ecology, energy use and conservation, or human environmental impacts.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

The Origins of Plate Tectonics - a complex text lesson:

This is a complex text reading lesson dealing with continental drift and plate tectonics.

Type: Lesson Plan

The bigger the tremble the bigger the trouble!:

Students will demonstrate earthquakes using graham crackers. They will then discover the after effects, (after shocks and tsunamis), and earthquake has on Mother Earth. Lastly, they will discover not all tsunamis are enormous tidal waves. This is lesson 3 of a 4-part unit. Lesson 1 (ID 45876), Lesson 2 (ID 45856), Lesson 4 (ID 45984)

Type: Lesson Plan

Don't Let Plate Tectonics Ruin Your Vacation!:

This is Lesson #1 of 4 sequential lessons that scaffold the concepts of Plate Tectonics. It teaches students what plates are and how they move on Earth. Students will learn how and why mountains and islands are created as well as why volcanoes erupt and earthquakes shake~daily!

Type: Lesson Plan

Deforestation and Urbanization:

This a lesson on the effects of deforestation and urbanization. Student will complete a diorama project with essay which is included in the lesson plan. There is a rubric for the essay attached as well.

Type: Lesson Plan

Layers and Layers:

This lesson has students create their own rock layers by slowly adding and observing how different types of sediment interact when layered upon each other. This lesson is meant to illustrate how we can use these layers to discover the relative age of an object found in that layer by utilizing the Law of Superposition.

Type: Lesson Plan

Thirst of a Nation:

In this inquiry activity students will be engineers that are tasked to design, build, test and evaluate a prototype to filter water.

Type: Lesson Plan

Dig It! (A Thematic Integrated Geology Unit):

This lesson (2 parts) is an engaging way to strengthen student understanding of the Law of Superposition and evidence of Earth's changes over time. Students will excavate "fossils" from plastic tubs in class and then have the option of a larger outside excavation. The lesson not only supports science benchmarks but Math and Language Arts Standards as well and has an optional Social Studies extension. Materials are required but can be easily obtained and are reusable year after year. The more imagination you put into setting the context, the more powerful the lesson's outcome.

Type: Lesson Plan

7th Grade Plate Tectonics:

This lesson plan uses recent earthquakes as a learning opportunity. Students will learn what causes earthquakes to happen by going through a series of activities that allow them to explore the structure of Earth's interior, convection currents in the mantle, motion of tectonic plates, and the relationship between plate tectonics and earthquakes.

Type: Lesson Plan

A Rocky Adventure:

Rocks are continually changing. Forces inside the earth bring them closer to the surface and forces on the earth sink them back down.

Type: Lesson Plan

Brr! How Cold is the Antarctic? :

In this PBL activity, students use online data to determine the extent of temperature changes in the Antarctic. They will analyze their data using measures of central tendency as well as measuring its variability. They will also use scratch to assist them in the calculations. These lesson will take two 50-minute periods.

Type: Lesson Plan

Earthquakes:

This is an online lesson that can be transferred into a classroom instructional activity by the teacher. This lesson simplifies the concepts while pushing the the higher order thinking concepts with scaffolding all concepts of the layers of the earth, plate tectonics, P and S waves, creating a model of an earthquake. Students enjoy this lesson and have been able to improve on assessment after completing the Earthquake lesson. Teachers will enjoy the online printable worksheets that correlate to the lesson/data sheets and the variety of choices while using the interactive tool for whole group instruction. There are many choices for formative assessment as well as summative assessment.

Type: Lesson Plan

Faulty Movement:

In this activity, students are introduced to faults. They will learn about different kinds of faults and understand their relationship to earthquakes.

Type: Lesson Plan

It's Too Hot In Here:

Students explore and investigate the theory that heat flow and movement within Earth causes earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as well as contributes to mountains and ocean basins. Students will examine: surface structures, tectonic plate maps, volcanic and earthquake historical data and video evidence. Students use their acquired knowledge to organize a PowerPoint or video presentation that illustrates their comprehension of of benchmark SC.7.E.6.7.

Type: Lesson Plan

Journey through the Rock Cycle:

Students will understand how a rock can travel through the rock cycle by actively documenting their rock's journey.

Type: Lesson Plan

Snack Tectonics:

Students will use edible food items to model convergent, divergent, and transform plate boundaries. They will observe the landforms that result from each boundary type and each crust types (oceanic or continental).

Type: Lesson Plan

Sustain Me:

The purpose of this MEA is to have students explore human impact on Earth as well as to look at workable solutions that they can implement in order to minimize this impact. This MEA focuses on water sustainability as defined by the EPA and requires that the students explore several Low Impact Development (LID) options to implement at school.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Weathering and Erosion Photo Safari:

Students will observe examples of weathering and erosion and relate these surface events to the rock cycle. Students should be able to identify which part of the rock cycle is represented by these events, and predict long-term changes to Earth's surface.

Type: Lesson Plan

Original Student Tutorials

Examine the Evidence: Earth Changes Over Time:

Explore multiple lines of evidence collected by scientists over time that support the claim that Earth has changed over time. This interactive tutorial includes multiple practice items and stunning images.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Human Impact: Desertification:

Explore desertification and the impact people have on it as you complete this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Human Impact: Deforestation:

Explore the loss of forests due to human impacts in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Plate Tectonic Boundaries:

Investigate the type of boundaries that occur between plates on the Earth in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Plate Tectonic Effects: A Ground Shaking Tutorial:

Learn about the types of effects that can occur as a result of plate tectonics in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Journey to the Center of the Earth:

Learn about the layers of Earth's interior and identify each layer's physical characteristics with this interactive tutorial. This includes the crust, mantle, inner core, and outer core.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Weathering, Erosion, and the Rock Cycle:

Learn how to sequence surface events that lead to the formation of sedimentary rock in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Mantle Convection and Earth's Features:

This tutorial covers movement of material within the Earth and the geologic processes and features associated with this movement.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Hey Rock, How Old Are You?:

Learn how to identify sedimentary rock from other types of rock formations and use the Law of Superposition to determine the relative age of rock layers with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Perspectives Video: Experts

Bycatch and the Impact on Biodiversity:

Dean Grubbs of Florida State Universisty, discusses the impact bycatch has on ocean life.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Why did we throw it away?:

Dean Grubbs explains how different types of trash, like plastics, ends up in the ocean and how they become a detriment to marine life.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Karst Geology:

Geologist Harley Means discusses the characteristics of karst geology.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Human Impact on the Ocean:

Dean Grubbs explains the ways in which humans can impact the ocean.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Monitoring Water Quality in the Florida Keys:

Water quality is extremely important to the aquatic ecosystem, and human activities all over the country can impact the water around the Florida Keys. Dive in and learn more!

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Mangrove Restoration:

Mangrove restoration efforts are rooted in hard work by many volunteers. Learn more now!

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiasts

Determining Remote Locations with Math:

Ecologist, Rebecca Means, describes the process of determining remote locations in the USA and developing quantitative questions that are appropriate.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Solving Systems of Equations, Oceans & Climate:

<p>Angela Dial discusses how she solves systems of equations to determine how the composition&nbsp;of ocean floor sediment has changed over 65 million years to help reveal more information&nbsp;regarding&nbsp;climate change.</p>

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Unit Rate and Florida Cave Formation:

How long does it take to form speleothems in the caves at Florida Caverns State Parks?

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Salvaging Timber from Riverbeds :

Coleman Mackie discusses the process of how he salvages pre-cut timbers from the bottom of river beds, the importance of ring density, buoyancy and the uses of the recovered logs.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Sampling Bird Populations to Track Environmental Restoration:

<p>Sometimes scientists conduct a census, too! Learn how population sampling can help monitor the progress of an ecological restoration project.</p>

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Isotopes and Paleoclimates:

Let this researcher explain how studying fossils and isotopes can help us understand ancient climate conditions!

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Perspectives Video: Teaching Ideas

Bag-O-Beads:

Using beads to model radiometric dating.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Teaching Idea

Seafloor Structure Layer Cakes:

Want to reinforce your students' understanding of seafloor spreading? This idea is a piece of cake!

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Teaching Idea

Resource Collection

The Geography Site: Physical Geography:

An educator, David Robinson, created this website to supply high quality materials dealing with various aspects of physical geography to educators and students. The website provides extensive information for five main categories: earthquakes, plate tectonics and continental drift, volcanoes and volcanics, glaciers and glaciation, and a physical geography glossary. Examples of the topics covered include an examination of the Mount St. Helens eruption, an introduction to predicting earthquakes, and the glacial formations of corries. Although the content was created primarily for twelve- to sixteen-year-old students, much of the material is applicable to all introductory earth science courses and can prove very beneficial for all interested in physical geography.

Type: Resource Collection

Teaching Ideas

MIT BLOSSOMS - Geologic Time: The Ticking of Our Planet’s 4.6 Billion Year Clock:

The Earth is 4.6 billion years old. That's a hard number to conceptualize. What does 4.6 billion look like, and what happened during all those hundreds of millions of years between the formation of our planet and now?

This BLOSSOMS lesson will help students conceptualize the enormity of geologic time and learn about important events in Earth's history. Students will also learn how geologic time can help explain seemingly incomprehensible processes, like the formation of the Himalayan Mountains from a flat plain to their current height, and the evolution of a tiny group of reptiles into enormous dinosaurs.

The lesson will take approximately 45 minutes. Students should have a basic understanding of biology, and a familiarity with geology is helpful but not necessary. The supplies required include a measuring tape that is at least 5 meters long, a 5 meter long piece of string, ribbon, or rope, index cards or other stiff pieces of paper, and calculators.

During the breaks, students will construct a geologic timeline of their own in the classroom and do simple calculations to determine how long amounts of time can lead to impressive changes in the height of the Himalayan Mountains and the size of a group of reptiles.

Type: Teaching Idea

Plate Tectonics:

It provides Plate Tectonics with evidence to explain the process of Earth evolution. Video presents how this theory makes sense in terms of the shape of different lands. Also, it presents other evidence to support Plate Tectonics.

Type: Teaching Idea

Text Resources

Oil and the Environment:

This informational text resource is designed to support reading in the content area. Oil is a natural resource of vital importance to nations around the world. This article outlines the benefits and burdens of responsible use of oil, including what needs to be considered when exploring and drilling, when using hydraulic fracturing, and when transporting oil. The article also briefly discusses actions the U.S. took after several major oil spills to help better protect the environment in the future.

Type: Text Resource

The Money of Global Warming: Q&A with McKenzie Funk:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The climate on Earth is changing and there are individuals and companies positioning themselves to make money on these changes. For example, oil companies are acquiring leases in previously frozen regions, arid farmland is being purchased because the land may be better in the future for growing crops than it is now as a result of climate changes.

Type: Text Resource

Water, Water, not Everywhere:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The article describes the cause and effect of farming and agriculture on the groundwater reserve. The article explains the water cycle and how scientists used two satellites named Tom and Jerry to track the changes in the amount of groundwater on earth. The article also details how gravity played a role in helping satellites detect the changes in water level. Finally, the article explains how farming uses the groundwater reserve stored many years ago, and how it depletes this reserve as a result.

Type: Text Resource

The quake that shook up geology:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area.   This article recounts the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964, a magnitude 9.2 event and the second strongest earthquake ever recorded. It also discuss how the earthquake helped shape the study of plate tectonics.  

Type: Text Resource

Fossil Forests:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. Using fossilized trees, scientists can investigate how the Earth has changed over millions of years. Tree fossils in the Arctic show that this region was once considerably warmer and was home to large forests teeming with life. Chemical analyses can also show what the soil and water of these regions looked like millions of years ago. This information can help predict what the world might look like as the Earth warms once again.

Type: Text Resource

Flu River:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This article discusses how a drug widely used to flight influenza—Tamiflu—is contaminating bodies of water. It describes how this poses potential risks to humans and wildlife.

Type: Text Resource

A Ghost Lake:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. Through the author's personal experience and observations made by scientists, this article describes how the study of an extinct lake's history can be used to make predictions about how warming temperatures may affect the future of current lakes. From analyses of the shoreline, soil, algal growth, and minerals coated on rocks, the article offers evidence and clues that the desert was once under water.

Type: Text Resource

Energy Companies Triggered Quakes, Study Says:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. Scientists recently linked the injection of carbon dioxide into the ground with increased numbers of earthquakes in Texas. This may have consequences for plans to store CO2 underground to slow global warming or inject it during the process of oil mining.

Type: Text Resource

World’s Biggest Volcano is Hiding Under the Sea:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This article explores scientists' identification of the largest volcano on Earth—Tamu Massif—which is found below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Due to its underlying geology, the volcano is mostly found below the ocean floor at the edge of two tectonic plates. It formed when magma emerged as the plates pulled apart. The article compares Tamu Massif to other giant volcanoes on Earth and on other planets.

Type: Text Resource

The Oldest Place on Earth:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. Evidence that supports how Earth's climate and the position of its continents have changed over time has been found in an unlikely place: Antarctica. Preserved plants and insects over 20 million years old, similar to specimens on other continents, have been discovered. These discoveries provide scientists with evidence to support the continental drift of the landmass once known as Gondwana.

Type: Text Resource

How Earth's Surface Morphs:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This article focuses on how plate tectonics change the surface of Earth, and how new research is changing the way we think about geological behavior. The article goes in depth about two new ideas that are changing the way we think about the planet's layers and the processes that have shaped Earth over its long history.

Type: Text Resource

Seeking a Break in a 252 Million-Year-Old Mass Killing:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The text describes how scientists are attempting to use several pieces of evidence to pinpoint when a mass extinction event occurred at the end of the Permian Period. The text points to a connection between increasing volcanic eruptions, an increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and their relationship to mass extinctions before alluding to the signs of how human activity could be pushing Earth towards one.

Type: Text Resource

Drinking Water: Bottled or from the Tap?:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The National Geographic Kids article discusses the environmental problems caused by disposable water bottle use.

Type: Text Resource

Earthquakes, Megaquakes, and the Movies:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The text explains how large earthquakes are naturally occurring events and compares them to the fictional "megaquakes" portrayed in movies. It also dispels a number of myths about earthquakes.

Type: Text Resource

Humans Threaten Wetlands' Ability to Keep Pace with Sea-Level Rise:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The text discusses the different benefits that wetlands bring to the environment, their potential resilience to sea level rise, and the different ways in which human-caused climate change is affecting their potential resiliency.

Type: Text Resource

Dynamic Earth Interactive:

This website allows students to explore earth's interior, the movement of tectonic plates, and the formation of mountains, volcanoes, and earthquakes. This website also offers interactive explanations and quizzes for students to test their knowledge. A worksheet is attached to guide students through using the website and give them a way to take notes.

Type: Text Resource

Deforestation:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This article discusses deforestation, its causes, and its effects on ecosystems.

Type: Text Resource

USGS: Geology in the Parks:

The US Geological Survey Geology in the Parks Web site is a cooperative project of the USGS Western Earth Surface Processes Team and the National Park Service. This extensive site covers geologic maps, plate tectonics, rocks and minerals, geologic time, US geologic provinces, park geology of the Mojave, Sunset Crater, Lake Mead, North Cascades, Death Valley, Yosemite National Park, and much more. Descriptions, graphics, photographs, and animations all contribute to this informative and interesting Web site making it a one stop, all encompassing, resource for everything geology and US national park related.

Type: Text Resource

Earth's Interior: A Look at the Inner Earth:

This informational text is intended to support reading in the content area. The article covers the composition and properties of Earth's layers.

Type: Text Resource

Scientists Anticipated Size and Location of 2012 Costa Rica Earthquake:

This informational text is intended to support reading in the content area. A group of scientists predict when and where an earthquake will occur in Costa Rica using the latest technology and research.

Type: Text Resource

Faultline: Theory of Plate Tectonics:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This text explains both the history of plate tectonics and continental drift, and the land features that result from the earth's plate movement.

Type: Text Resource

Plate Tectonics:

This resource supports reading in the content area. This text is about the different interactions the plates on the Earth's surface have with each other and how they affect the Earth's surface.

Type: Text Resource

Mountain Maker, Earth Shaker:

This resource supports reading in the content area. This is an informational text that provides the explanations and activities of the different movements of plate tectonics. This resource includes text-dependent questions.

Type: Text Resource

Big Quake, Little Destruction:

This informational text is intended to support reading in the content area. The article outlines the differences between recent large earthquakes in the Pacific and the earthquake that caused a devastating tsunami in 2004. It describes how tectonic plates can move in relation to one another in order to explain different geophysical (e.g. tsunami) outcomes.

Type: Text Resource

Thirst for Water Moves and Shakes California:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. Humans have been pumping large amounts of groundwater from the Central Valley of California for their own hydration needs. Recent research has found that this loss of mass is causing the Earth's crust to shift, which may be causing small earthquakes and the slight rise of mountains in California.

Type: Text Resource

Tutorial

Digging for Clues: Effective Vocabulary Strategies:

Click "View Site" to open a full-screen version. This tutorial is designed to help secondary science teachers learn how to integrate literacy skills into their science curriculum. This tutorial will demonstrate a number of strategies teachers can impart to students to help them use context clues to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words within science texts. It will also help them teach students how to select the appropriate definition from reference materials. The focus on literacy across content areas is intended to help foster students' reading, writing, and thinking skills in multiple disciplines.

Type: Tutorial

Video/Audio/Animations

Plate Tectonics:

Graphic 1 min video showing the layers of the earth and magma convection and it's effects on the surface of the earth.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Deep Sea Vents and Life:

Excerpted from NOVA: "Volcanoes of the Deep", this video segment reveals strange and luminescent forms of life, such as giant tube worms, spider crabs, and billions of microbes clumped together like a cottony web. The site where life began on Earth may have been where black smokers stream from hydrothermal vents and chimneys along the sea floor.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Natural Climate Change in Djibouti, Africa:

This video clip explains how the position of the Earth relative to the Sun might be responsible for the dramatic climate shift in what is now known as the Saharan nation of Djibouti. Even though it seems that a geographic feature such as a desert would be permanent, Earth's climate and landscape are dynamic and change constantly. According to geologic evidence, parts of the Sahara were once lush and held many animal species now associated with the savannas to the south.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

MIT BLOSSOMS - Can Earthquakes Be Predicted?:

This learning video uses a simple analog setup to explore why earthquakes are so unpredictable. The setup is simple enough that students should be able to assemble and operate it on their own with a teacher's supervision. The teaching approach used in this module is known as the 5E approach, which stands for Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration, and Evaluation. Over the course of this lesson, the basic mechanisms that give rise to the behavior of the simple analog system are explained, and further elaboration helps the students to apply their understanding of the analog system to complex fault systems that cause earthquakes. It is important that students be familiar with the following prerequisite concepts before beginning the module: earth's interior structure, plate tectonics and plate motions, properties of Earth materials, and faults and fault motions. This lesson can be completed in 50 minutes if the basic materials for construction of the analog setup are compiled prior to getting started in class. Materials needed include: two 4" x 4" wooden blocks; two screw eyes, 12x1-3/16" ; one 4"x36" sanding belt (50 Grit); one 1/3 Sheet of sandpaper (60 Grit); one rubber band; 16" of duct tape; one fabric tape measurement ; one pair of scissors; and one hot glue gun. This interactive lesson incorporates two primary types of activities during the breaks between video segments: Analog setup exploration and Guided discussions. The lesson described in this video module has been adapted from activities developed by Hubenthal, M., Braile, L., Taber, J. (2008) Redefining earthquakes and the earthquake machine. The Science Teacher, 75(1), 32-36.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Virtual Manipulatives

Plate Tectonics:

In this resource, you can explore how tectonic plates move on the surface of the Earth. The interactive simulation takes you through 0-50 millions years of movement.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Radioactive Dating Game:

This simulation demonstrates the principles of radioactive dating. Users can also determine the age of different objects such as fossils and rocks by percentage of parent nuclei remaining.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Rock Cycle Interactive Animation:

Rock Cycle

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this topic.

Original Student Tutorials

Examine the Evidence: Earth Changes Over Time:

Explore multiple lines of evidence collected by scientists over time that support the claim that Earth has changed over time. This interactive tutorial includes multiple practice items and stunning images.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Human Impact: Desertification:

Explore desertification and the impact people have on it as you complete this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Human Impact: Deforestation:

Explore the loss of forests due to human impacts in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Plate Tectonic Boundaries:

Investigate the type of boundaries that occur between plates on the Earth in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Plate Tectonic Effects: A Ground Shaking Tutorial:

Learn about the types of effects that can occur as a result of plate tectonics in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Journey to the Center of the Earth:

Learn about the layers of Earth's interior and identify each layer's physical characteristics with this interactive tutorial. This includes the crust, mantle, inner core, and outer core.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Weathering, Erosion, and the Rock Cycle:

Learn how to sequence surface events that lead to the formation of sedimentary rock in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Mantle Convection and Earth's Features:

This tutorial covers movement of material within the Earth and the geologic processes and features associated with this movement.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Hey Rock, How Old Are You?:

Learn how to identify sedimentary rock from other types of rock formations and use the Law of Superposition to determine the relative age of rock layers with this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Lesson Plans

The Surprising World of Complex Systems:

This lesson introduces students to complex systems and to basic concepts from the field of system dynamics that lie at the heart of systems thinking. These concepts include stocks and flows, feedback loops, unintended consequences, and the basic principle that the behavior of complex systems can best be understood by looking at the system as a whole, and specifically by analyzing the system’s underlying structure. The lesson introduces these topics through an immersion in (and a role-play simulation of) the dynamics of urban recycling systems, many of which have been thrown into crisis in the past two years. Through this current-affairs example of complex systems in crisis, we identify some key structural features that help to explain how these systems behave over time. We also discover how well-intentioned action can cause negative unintended consequences when we try to intervene in a complex system without understanding how it operates.

Type: Lesson Plan

Sea Level Rise: The Ocean's Uplifting Experience:

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the concept of sea level rise as it occurs through climate change by having them examine 3 specific parameters:  ice distribution, thermal expansion, and analyzing and interpreting data.  The lesson and activities within the lesson were designed using the three dimensions of the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards – specifically crosscutting concepts, science and engineering practices, and disciplinary core ideas. While there isn’t any required pre-requisite learning required for this lesson, a general understanding of sea-level rise, glaciers, and climate may be beneficial to students. During classroom breaks, pairs of students will develop/discuss their models, revise their interpretations of their models or data, and think-pair-share their thoughts on the investigation segments.

Type: Lesson Plan

Perspectives Video: Expert

Monitoring Water Quality in the Florida Keys:

Water quality is extremely important to the aquatic ecosystem, and human activities all over the country can impact the water around the Florida Keys. Dive in and learn more!

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Sampling Bird Populations to Track Environmental Restoration:

<p>Sometimes scientists conduct a census, too! Learn how population sampling can help monitor the progress of an ecological restoration project.</p>

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Text Resource

USGS: Geology in the Parks:

The US Geological Survey Geology in the Parks Web site is a cooperative project of the USGS Western Earth Surface Processes Team and the National Park Service. This extensive site covers geologic maps, plate tectonics, rocks and minerals, geologic time, US geologic provinces, park geology of the Mojave, Sunset Crater, Lake Mead, North Cascades, Death Valley, Yosemite National Park, and much more. Descriptions, graphics, photographs, and animations all contribute to this informative and interesting Web site making it a one stop, all encompassing, resource for everything geology and US national park related.

Type: Text Resource

Video/Audio/Animations

Deep Sea Vents and Life:

Excerpted from NOVA: "Volcanoes of the Deep", this video segment reveals strange and luminescent forms of life, such as giant tube worms, spider crabs, and billions of microbes clumped together like a cottony web. The site where life began on Earth may have been where black smokers stream from hydrothermal vents and chimneys along the sea floor.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Natural Climate Change in Djibouti, Africa:

This video clip explains how the position of the Earth relative to the Sun might be responsible for the dramatic climate shift in what is now known as the Saharan nation of Djibouti. Even though it seems that a geographic feature such as a desert would be permanent, Earth's climate and landscape are dynamic and change constantly. According to geologic evidence, parts of the Sahara were once lush and held many animal species now associated with the savannas to the south.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Virtual Manipulatives

Plate Tectonics:

In this resource, you can explore how tectonic plates move on the surface of the Earth. The interactive simulation takes you through 0-50 millions years of movement.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Radioactive Dating Game:

This simulation demonstrates the principles of radioactive dating. Users can also determine the age of different objects such as fossils and rocks by percentage of parent nuclei remaining.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Parent Resources

Vetted resources caregivers can use to help students learn the concepts and skills in this topic.

Perspectives Video: Expert

Monitoring Water Quality in the Florida Keys:

Water quality is extremely important to the aquatic ecosystem, and human activities all over the country can impact the water around the Florida Keys. Dive in and learn more!

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Sampling Bird Populations to Track Environmental Restoration:

<p>Sometimes scientists conduct a census, too! Learn how population sampling can help monitor the progress of an ecological restoration project.</p>

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Resource Collection

The Geography Site: Physical Geography:

An educator, David Robinson, created this website to supply high quality materials dealing with various aspects of physical geography to educators and students. The website provides extensive information for five main categories: earthquakes, plate tectonics and continental drift, volcanoes and volcanics, glaciers and glaciation, and a physical geography glossary. Examples of the topics covered include an examination of the Mount St. Helens eruption, an introduction to predicting earthquakes, and the glacial formations of corries. Although the content was created primarily for twelve- to sixteen-year-old students, much of the material is applicable to all introductory earth science courses and can prove very beneficial for all interested in physical geography.

Type: Resource Collection