Document Type

Instructional Material

Publication Date



In this unit, students will explore patterns of change in the earth s layers through hands-on experiments and activities, as well as case studies of geologic phenomena. Students will learn about volcano types, volcanic activity, and plate movement and its effects. Students will be exposed to the plate tectonic theory and its implications on geologic history. They will observe the effects of geologic activity on human life based through case studies such as Mt. St. Helens, the 1989 earthquake in Loma Prieta, California, and the tsunami of 2004. Students will also gain new perspective on the decisions humans make in their choice of location. Why do people live near potentially harmful landmarks? What are the benefits associated with living near a volcano or fault line? Students will demonstrate their understanding of these questions through diary entries and class discussions. Students will also learn about how mountains are formed and will classify mountain types based on their appearance. Throughout the unit, students will examine models of the earth as well as models of geologic phenomena. They will observe how the models represent real-world situations, and will also identify limitations of each model. Throughout each portion of the unit, students will connect patterns of change to geologic phenomena, in order to hypothesize what the earth was like in the past, as well as to predict what geologic phenomena might occur in the future. By practicing such skills, students will see the importance of scientific study to the well-being of life on earth. The unit will conclude with a performance task that, upon giving students scientific data (seismic readings, temperature readings, relief maps, and pictures of the landmark), asks them to identify the geologic landmark of a hypothetical area. Students must then identify potential benefits and dangers of living near the landmark, possible events that have occurred in the area's recent history, and possible events that may occur in the future. Students will gather their findings and prepare a pamphlet to present to a small audience. By using their knowledge in a practical way, students will enjoy a memorable and intellectually rewarding activity.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.