SC.7.E.6.4

Explain and give examples of how physical evidence supports scientific theories that Earth has evolved over geologic time due to natural processes.
General Information
Subject Area: Science
Grade: 7
Body of Knowledge: Earth and Space Science
Idea: Level 3: Strategic Thinking & Complex Reasoning
Big Idea: 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.
Date Adopted or Revised: 02/08
Date of Last Rating: 05/08
Status: State Board Approved
Assessed: Yes
Test Item Specifications
  • Item Type(s): This benchmark may be assessed using: MC item(s)
  • Also Assesses
    SC.7.E.6.3 Identify current methods for measuring the age of Earth and its parts, including the law of superposition and radioactive dating.

  • Clarification :
    Students will identify examples of and/or explain physical evidence that supports scientific theories that Earth has evolved over geologic time due to natural processes.

    Students will identify and/or describe current scientific methods for measuring the age of Earth and its parts.
  • Content Limits :
    Items may address fossil records but should not require knowledge or recognition of specific organisms.

    Items may address folding and faulting as related to the law of superposition.

    Items assessing radioactive dating will be limited to a conceptual level. Items will not require calculations or address half-life.

    Items addressing geologic time will not require specific knowledge of eras, periods, or epochs.
  • Stimulus Attributes :
    None specified
  • Response Attributes :
    None specified
  • Prior Knowledge :
    This benchmark grouping is foundational. These concepts have not been introduced in the NGSSS prior to this grade-level grouping.
Sample Test Items (1)
  • Test Item #: Sample Item 1
  • Question: The oldest rock formation identified on Earth is found on the shoreline of Hudson Bay in Canada. This rock formed 4.28 billion years ago. What information does a scientist need to more accurately determine the age of a rock?
  • Difficulty: N/A
  • Type: MC: Multiple Choice

Related Courses

This benchmark is part of these courses.
2002070: M/J Comprehensive Science 2 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2002080: M/J Comprehensive Science 2, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001010: M/J Earth/Space Science (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001020: M/J Earth/Space Science, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
7820016: Access M/J Comprehensive Science 2 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 and beyond (current))
2002085: M/J Comprehensive Science 2 Accelerated Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
7920040: Fundamental Integrated Science 3 (Specifically in versions: 2013 - 2015, 2015 - 2017 (course terminated))

Related Access Points

Alternate version of this benchmark for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
SC.7.E.6.Pa.3: Recognize that ground on the Earth’s surface changes over time.
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.Su.3: Recognize that fossils are remains or imprints of living things from long ago.

Related Resources

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

Lesson Plans

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

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

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

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

Original Student Tutorial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original Student Tutorials Science - Grades K-8

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.

Student Resources

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

Original Student Tutorial

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

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

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

Parent Resources

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

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