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Take me to unit 5: The Atmosphere and Hydrosphere

Take me to unit 3: Earth as a Planet


Unit 4: The Geosphere




Did you notice the ring around the moon a few evenings ago?  What caused it? 



**So you're taking a Midterm Exam...maybe this will help you out**


Review Games From Class for Midterm Exam:

Midterm Astronomy Jeopardy.ppt

Millionaire Midterm Game 1.ppt

Millionaire Midterm Game 2.ppt










Unit Preassessment Questions


What is the Geosphere?


The geosphere is the solid Earth that includes continental and oceanic crust as well as the various layers of the Earth's interior.

  • The geosphere includes the lithosphere, the mantle, and the dense metallic cores.
  • The surface of Earth has identifiable major features--land masses (continents), oceans, rivers, lakes, mountains, canyons, and glaciers.
  • The movement of Earth's lithospheric plates causes both slow changes in the earth's surface (e.g., formation of mountains and ocean basins) and rapid ones (e.g., volcanic eruptions and earthquakes).
  • Earth's surface is built up and worn down by natural processes, such as rock formation, erosion, and weathering.
  • Physical evidence, such as fossils and radiometric dating, provide evidence for the Earth system's evolution and development.


Enduring Understandings:


  1. The present is the key to the past. Studying current Earth processes helps scientists piece together the planet's geologic history.

  2. The Earth can be viewed as a set of dynamic systems—the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere—that interact with each other. The interactions of these systems through time have determined the character of the Earth.

  3. Geologic time: The processes that have governed the evolution of the Earth operate over time scales so much longer than human experience that they are difficult to comprehend.

  4. Nearly everything we know about the Earth—including the age of the planet and when life first appeared—has been learned from evidence contained in rocks.

  5. The flow of solid rock in the Earth's mantle (convection) drives plate tectonics and has shaped the planet's surface over millions of years.


Unit Introduction:

Introduction to the Dynamic Earth Activity



Section 1:  How Old is that Rock?  Absolute vs. Relative Dating


Textbook Connection:

  • Relative Dating read Chapter 17.1 in Modern Earth Science
  • Absolute (Radiometeric) Dating read Chapter 17.2 in Modern Earth Science



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At what rate do atoms change in radioactive decay?  (Class Penny Lab)

 Radiometric Dating Half Life Lab.pdf


 Virtual (online) Radiometric Dating Lab


Frosty the Snowman Lab, applying what you learned about radiometric dating to a crime Frosty the Snowman Radiometric Dating.doc



Using Radiometric Dating in Geology



Relative Dating Class Activity

 Relative Dating Activity.doc  (cards below go with this activity)

Relative Dating Cards Part 1.doc

Relative Dating Cards Part 2.doc





GeoSleuth (In Class "Murder" Mystery Lesson) Powerpoint Presentation

GeoSleuth Lab Presentation.ppt  


Why Geology Rocks.ppt 





Section 2:  Geologic Time, The History of Everything!


Textbook Connection:

  • Geologic TIme Scale- Chapter 18 section 1 and section 2 


Essential Questions:

  1. What major events occurred over the Earth's 4.6 billion years history?
  2. How is geologic time divided so that 4.6 billion years are comprehensible?
  3. Where do humans fit into the geologic time scale?


Enduring Understandings:

  1. Geologic time is divided into Eons, which are divided into Eras, which are divided into Periods.
  2. The Precambrian Supereon makes up an astounding 7/8ths of Earth's history.
  3. The Phanerozoic Eon (Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic Eras) make up the remainder of Earth's history.
  4. The Paleozoic ("Ancient Life") Era is known as the Age of Fish.
  5. The Mesozoic ("Middle Life") Era is known as the Age of Reptiles.
  6. The Cenzoic ("Most Recent") Era is known as the Age of Mammals.
  7. Life is adapted to varying conditions on Earth.
  8. The solid crust of the earth consists of separate plates that ride on a denser, hot, gradually defomable layer of earth.
  9. The ocean and continental crusts move slowly.
  10. The force of gravity enables the planet to retain an atmosphere.




Reference Materials:


Mass Extinctions Interactive


The Geologic Time Scale


Another View of the Geologic Time Scale (simpler/smaller)


Geologic Time Tour, a guided tour of geologic time


What exactly are fossils and how do they form?


Fossils Tour, a guided tour (on the page click the Student Level 2 Shell)


  • Make sure you complete the quiz at the end of the tour


Stories From the Fossil Record

This guided tour was designed to show that fossils do indeed "have a story to tell" and it gives us examples of evidence drawn from the fossil record.


Movie: "How the Earth Was Made"


How the Earth Was Made Movie Questions.pdf


Vocabulary List for Quiz






  1. Activity/Homework:

Personal Geologic Time Scale.doc


  1. Chapter 18 Section 1 and Section 2, page 344-359

Geologic Time Scale Assignment 1.doc


  1. Reading: Modern Earth Science Chapter 17.


 Vocabulary List (you should understand all of these terms)






The Paleontology Portal


480 Million Year Old Fossils from the Ordovician Period Right Here in Vermont!


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Section 3:  Rocks, Minerals, and Erosion



Textbook Connection:

  • Review concepts in Chapter 8 (Earth Chemistry) in Modern Earth Science
  • read Chapter 9 (Minerals) in Modern Earth Science
  • read Chapter 10 (Rocks) in Modern Earth Science




What makes a mineral?


  • naturally occuring
  • inorganic (no carbon/not made of dead organisms)
  • crystalline (crystals)
  • solid


Minerals: What are they How to identify them What are they used for


Density of Minerals Lab


MasterMines National Geographic Geology game


What makes a rock?


  • solid mixture of one or more minerals or other materials

3 main classes of rock:

  • igneous
  • sedimentary
  • metamorphic


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Interactive Tour of the Rock Cycle


Online Interactive Tour of the Rock Cycle


Rock Cycle Webquest


Rock Identification Key




Murder at Prospect Cove A Crime Scene Investigation


 What’s inside the Earth.ppt








Section 4:  The Development of the Theory of Plate Tectonics


Essential Questions:

  1. What causes Tectonic Plates to move?
  2. How did scientists figure out that the earth is covered by rigid lithospheric plates?


Enduring Understanding:

  1. Tectonic Plates move due to the creation/destruction of sea floor AND because of convection currents in the upper mantle.



Reference Materials/Assignments:


Questions/Understandings/Pre-conception Survey

Plate Tectonics Survey002.pdf



This USGS publication includes EVERYTHING you need to understand about the topic. 


Online Edition of "This Dynamic Earth: The Story of Plate Tectonics"


It is divided into 7 sections:

  1. Preface
  2. Historical Perspective
  3. Developing the Theory
  4. Understanding Plate Motions
  5. Hot Spots: Mantle Thermal Plumes
  6. Some Unanswered Questions
  7. Plate Tectonics and People



Continental Drift + Seafloor Spreading= Plate Tectonics!!!





Continental Drift Evidence Assignment.pdf

For students: "Background Information," "Analyzing Evidence," and "Writing Frame" pages


Continental Drift Map Assignment.pdf

Worksheets are the last 4 pages of the file


The Earth's Magnetic Field "Flipping" Out


Seafloor Spreading Background Information.pdf

Seafloor Spreading Background


Seafloor Spreading Class Lab.doc





Seafloor Spreading Animation


Seafloor Spreading Online Animation


Earth-Mantle Convection


Geologic Time and Continental Locations



The Paleomap Project:  illustrating the plate tectonic development of the ocean basins and continents, as well as the changing distribution of land and sea during the past 1100 million years.


Brief Geologic History of Vermont.pdf



Still Having Trouble???  Plate Tectonics Review:

Plate Tectonics Review.pdf





Section 5: What Happens Where Plates Meet?


(don't get confused, click on Section 5 above, it's linked to the different sections)

Essential Questions:

  1. What happens when Tectonic Plates move?
  2. How are natural disasters and Plate Tectonics connected?
  3. Why are most earthquakes and volcanoes concentrated in different areas in the world?
  4. What are subduction zones and faults?


Enduring Understandings:

  1. Earthquakes, Volcanoes (both types Shield and Strato), and Mountains are all results of different types of plate boundaries.
  2. Deep Ocean Trenches, Rift Valleys, and Mid Ocean Ridges are also results of tectonic plate boundaries.




Plate Tectonics Final Map Project














For Santa's Eyes Only: 

Mr Coyle's Christmas List



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