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Archived Information

Science and Technology/Engineering
Curriculum Framework - Spring 2001


Appendix III

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Additional Activities to Enhance the Learning Standards

Earth and Space Science

In this Appendix are additional activities to enhance the learning standards. Activities in regular type are Ideas for Developing Investigations and Learning Experiences, those in italics are Suggested Extensions to Learning in Technology/Engineering.

Grades 3-5

Standard #1

  • Observe and describe the differences between quartz and mica.
  • With a hand lens, examine a sample of coarse sand containing many kinds of grains. Also examine a collection of local rocks. Notice that rocks usually contain grains of many different minerals and that sand grains can be pure minerals, e.g., quartz, mica, etc.
  • Show examples of items made from minerals, e.g., jewelry, aluminum foil, cans, glass bottles, etc.
  • Visit a glass factory, or an aluminum or tin production plant. (T/E 1.1, 1.2)
  • Arrange a visit with experts who work with minerals, e.g., gemologist. (T/E 1.1, 1.2)
  • Discuss how minerals are used in industry/technology, e.g., diamonds for drilling. (T/E 1.1)

Standard #2

  • Acquire a collection of minerals that includes (a) duplicates of the same mineral, somewhat different in appearance (size, shape, exact color) and (b) samples of minerals that look similar but are actually different. Sort as accurately as possible. Test all samples using three field tests: magnetism, streak, and hardness. Resort the minerals if this new information changes prior conclusions about samples being identical or not.
  • Use a field guide to identify the minerals that you have described above. Compare your list of physical properties with those given in the guide.

Standard #3

  • Approximate the role of heat in the formation of metamorphic rocks. Use dry cereal, marshmallows, and chocolate chips to represent three different minerals. Study and record the properties of each "mineral." Combine and bake. Study properties of the "rocks" and new "minerals" formed by heat. Contrast to preexisting "minerals."
  • Approximate the role of pressure in the formation of metamorphic rocks. Snap wooden toothpicks in half, leaving them connected. Make similar piles of these "mineral grains" side by side on a tray. Place large books on top of one pile and press. Observe differences in the "rocks" brought about by pressure.
  • Explain how the toothpick activity can also be used to represent the role of pressure in forming sedimentary rocks. Now the uncompacted toothpicks represent fresh grains of sediment.
  • Illustrate the growth of crystals (important in forming both igneous and sedimentary rocks). Make concentrated solutions of various salts. Allow them to evaporate slowly and observe the formation of crystals. Commonly used salts include table salt (sodium chloride), alum, and Epsom salt.
  • Visit a facility that utilizes rocks and minerals in construction materials. (T/E 1.1, 1.2)

Standard #4

  • Engage in composting (worm farms).
  • Construct a mini-landfill. Unearth and observe decomposition of buried waste, e.g., food, paper, plastic, metal. (T/E 2.1, 2.2, 2.3)

Standard #5

  • Prepare different soil mixes using commercial potting soil, worm compost, and sand. Compare growth of plants in the different mixes.
  • Fill clear jars half full with soil samples, then fill with water, shake, let settle, and observe the layers.

Standard #7

  • Watch national/international weather broadcasts. Discuss the relationship between precipitation, temperature, and location on the globe.

Standard #8

  • Create weather maps using basic symbols showing weather patterns, precipitation, etc. Students present their own weather report to the class.
  • Grade 3: Watch local weather reports on television and in the newspaper.
  • Grades 4-5: Attempt to forecast the weather for the next day and explain reasons for the forecast.

Standard #10

  • Demonstrate in the classroom evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.
  • Show on a diagram of the water cycle the effects of regional weather events such as heavy rainstorms, heavy winter snow totals, and droughts.
  • Have students brainstorm and act out the water cycle. (See Incredible Journey/ Project WET in internet resource list.)
  • Place white flowers (e.g., carnation, rose) in vase with food coloring added to the water. Observe change in flower color and relate to uptake of pollution by plants.
  • Create a simple presentation showing the water cycle. (T/E 2.2)

Standard #12

  • Visit local sites that show examples of the earth changing due to slow processes (e.g., schoolyard, coastline, erosion at Walden Pond) and rapid processes (e.g., localized erosion at Nauset Beach after a large storm). Document the changes using newspaper photographs.
  • Visit local sites that show the effects of glacial advance or retreat on the landscape, e.g., drumlins, kettle ponds, etc.
  • Observe the effect of winter weathering on roads.
  • Discuss the scales (e.g., the Richter Scale) used to measure earth events. (T/E 2.2)
  • Compare a beaver dam with a manmade dam. What effects on the environment does each have? (T/E 2.4)

Standard #14

  • Create a model of the solar system and, using a flashlight, demonstrate the effects of the earth's rotation and revolution. (T/E 2.2, 2.3)

Standard #15

  • Using a model (light source and sphere), demonstrate how the various phases of the moon are formed.


Last Updated: May 1, 2001
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