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Structure of the Earth System (5-8)

* The solid earth is layered: an outer crust, inner mantle, and dense metallic core.  * The crust is made of huge plates that the oceans and continents rest on. The plates move at centimeters per year. Major geologic events: earthquakes, volcanoes, and mountains occur because of plate movement.  * Some changes in the earth are called the "rock cycle".  * Soils consist of weathered rocks and decomposes organic matter.  * Water circulates through the crust, oceans, and atmosphere in the "water cycle".  * The atmosphere is a mixture of gases.  * Global patterns of atmospheric movement influences local weather.  (NSES, 1996)

In the rectangle above, you will find the fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard. Below you will find a list of recommended "learning tools" for this standard. Just click the links within the descriptions. Numbers are for reference only. Use our "Tell a Friend" feature, at the bottom,  to send this page to a friend! 


The name of this wonderful web suite of learning tools is called the Plate Tectonics. This incredibly well designed science resource is divided into four sections: 1) Lesson, 2) Global Impact, 3) Explore, & Activities.The Flash version is at the bottom of page.  This learning tool is from one of the leaders in science education the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Their clear vision & exciting design  help kids learn science in innovative ways.


Explore How Plates Affect Your World is an elegant and conceptually clear interactive from the American Museum of Natural History. Students see an informative introduction and then get to explore the different plate boundaries from around he world. AMNH continues to be a leader in science education. Check out their Ology web site, it is really fantastic!


The Earthquake Hazards Program allows student to see recent, within 1 week, earthquakes from the US or the world. The data is clear and the navigation is intuitive. the USGS continues to be a leader in science education.


Google Maps is an incredible technical marvel. When you get to the site, just place your address, a comma, and then your zip code. Hit the search button and within a split second you have a map of your area, but the really amazing part is when you hit the "satellite" button on the far right side of the page. Zoom in and out and pan all over the American continent. An amazing feat from Google.


The National Weather Service is a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (U.S). This site is a treasure trove of useful data for students and teachers. When you get to the site you will see a map of "Warnings and Forecasts". Look to the tabs at the top of this map to explore Graphical Forecasts, National Maps, Radar, Rivers, Air Quality, and Satellite data.


NASA continues to be a leader in science education! This "learning tool" is called the "Earth Observatory: Data & Images". Here you can explore data sets in a very visual way. Scroll your mouse over Atmosphere, Oceans, Land, Life on Earth, and Heat & Energy to see the specific variables you can choose. Select the variable and then build an animation to see it change over time. We recommend this site in many areas of learningscience.org


 This simple "learning tool" allows students to see where earthquakes hit on our planet during a five year time period. The name of this interactive is called Earthquake Epicenters. This interactive was developed by the Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development group. Be sure to visit their other interactives at their Science Lab.  


An incredible collection of interactives and animations that are called the Iris Animation Collection is a wonder of seismic education. Before you pick one to view, scroll down the page to get a sense of what is available. Don't miss their Teachable Moments section. The Main Iris site is a collaboration of many universities and colleges that are funded by the National Science Foundation. Thanks to Miles Roe, of Mill Creek Elementary, for highlighting this incredible learning tool.


The name of this clever "learning tool" is called Build Your Bridge. Designing and building a bridge to withstand earthquakes is no easy challenge. Explore the science, technology and people involved in the bridge with these interactive learning modules and simulations! Take on the challenge facing bridge designers and de sign a bridge that can withstand a Maximum Seismic Event—then test your bridge to see how it fares! Produced by NewBayBridge.org


PBS, another leader in science education, brings us this "learning tool" called Mountain Maker, Earth Shaker. Alfred Wegener's theory, plate tectonics, has had a major impact on Earth Sciences. It represents a scientific revolution as significant to geology as relativity was to physics. This activity lets you manipulate tectonic plates. Pull the plates apart and push them together and watch what happens to the Earth. Shockwave is required. This is from PBS's A Science Odyssey.


This well done "learning tool" is from the United States Geologic Survey (USGS). This data rich and accessible site is called the Earthquakes Hazards Program.  The real time earthquake maps are especially good for students to see and use in their studies. The USGS does a wonderful job of science education for all age students.


NASA has always been a leader in science education. The name of this "learning tool" is called Seismic Waves. Students can clearly see the origin and mapping of P and S waves. This is a unique and elegant interactive from one of the leaders in science and science education.  This comes to us from the NASA Computational Technologies Project Science Interactives.


Elegant and spectacular The Dynamic Earth from the National Museum of Natural History is an amazing "learning tool". This site is divided into four areas: Plate Tectonics and Volcanoes, The Solar System, Gems and Minerals, and Rocks and Mining. Using clear design and clever multimedia content, this is a must see for those studying geology. Produced by the Smithsonian.


The name of this "learning tool" is called Plate Tectonics. When you get to the page, there are a series of 6 Flash Presentations (animations) that explain this important geological theory. Be sure to maximize the new window for greater area for your students. This tool has been developed by Optiputer Outreach. Flash is required.


The name of this creative and well designed learning tool is Volcano Explorer - The Virtual Volcano. Students change factors like viscosity and gas and then watch the volcano explode. This learning tool is filled with clear conceptual explanations of various aspects which cause volcanoes and earthquakes. Masterfully developed by the Discovery Channel (Games and Puzzles).


This "learning tool" is called Weather and comes to us from EdHeads. Students will love forecasting and predicting the weather, we guarantee it! All of EdHeads simulations are conceptually clear, well designed and developmentally appropriate for students. A clear leader in the development of "learning tools" for science education!


This "learning tool" is called Virtual Courseware: Earthquake. It is a tremendous example of web based tools combined with strong content and design. Virtual Courseware for Earth and Environmental Sciences is an incredible suite of programs & is supported by  the U.S. National Science Foundation & the California State University System. Flash is required.


The name of this learning tool is called The Water Cycle and does a wonderful job of visualizing this important cycle for students. This was created by the Environmental Protection Agency's Kids' Stuff on Drinking and Ground Water. The US EPA continues to be a leader in science education.


The name of this learning tool is called The Water Cycle Movie. In this lesson students will learn about the water cycle, water storage, water movement, and other aspects of the water cycle. This site  comes to us from the Kids Site of the Environmental Protection Agency.


The name of this learning tool is called Rock Cycle and has been created by Annenberg Media at Learner.org, both incredible sites. Discover rock secrets through these activities. Create a rock collection as you learn about the three main types of rock, find out how to tell the different rock types apart, and see how rocks change from one type into another! See more the complete list of Interactives at Learner.org


 The name of this learning tool is called Weathering and Climate. This simple, yet effective animation shows the various forms of weathering in conceptual and clear illustrations. Just click the NEXT button to get started.  The University of Kentucky has a number of earth science interactives that are really special. Check them out at Geology Animations, Interactive Exercises, and now...Songs!




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