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Standard 2

Students will understand Earth’s internal structure and the dynamic nature of the tectonic plates that form its surface.

Objective 1

  • Evaluate the source of Earth’s internal heat and the evidence of Earth’s internal structure.
  • Identify that radioactive decay and heat of formation are the sources of Earth’s internal heat.
  • Trace the lines of scientific evidence (e.g., seismic studies, composition of meteorites, and samples of the crust and mantle) that led to the inference that Earth’s core, mantle, and crust are separated based on composition.
  • Trace the lines of scientific evidence that led to the inference that Earth’s lithosphere, asthenosphere, mesosphere, outer core, and inner core are separated based on physical properties.
  • Model how convection currents help distribute heat within the mantle.

Objective 2

  • Describe the development of the current theory of plate tectonics and the evidence that supports this theory.
  • Explain Alfred Wegener’s continental drift hypothesis, his evidence (e.g., fossil record, ancient climates, geometric fit of continents), and why it was not accepted in his time.
  • Cite examples of how the geologic record preserves evidence of past change.
  • Establish the importance of the discovery of mid-ocean ridges, oceanic trenches, and magnetic striping of the sea floor to the development of the modern theory of plate tectonics.
  • Explain how mantle plumes (hot spots) provide evidence for the rate and direction of tectonic plate motion.
  • Organize and evaluate the evidence for the current theory of plate tectonics: sea floor spreading, age of sea floor, distribution of earthquakes and volcanoes.

Objective 3

  • Demonstrate how the motion of tectonic plates affects Earth and living things.
  • Describe a lithospheric plate and identify the major plates of the Earth.
  • Describe how earthquakes and volcanoes transfer energy from Earth’s interior to the surface (e.g., seismic waves transfer mechanical energy, flowing magma transfers heat and mechanical energy).
  • Model the factors that cause tectonic plates to move (e.g., gravity, density, convection).
  • Model tectonic plate movement and compare the results of plate movement along convergent, divergent, and transform boundaries (e.g., mountain building, volcanoes, earthquakes, mid-ocean ridges, oceanic trenches).
  • Design, build, and test a model that investigates local geologic processes (e.g., mudslides, earthquakes, flooding, erosion) and the possible effects on human-engineered structures (e.g., dams, homes, bridges, roads).


Earthquakes LB 551.2 NAU

pg 4 (1:00) Earthquake damage (silent)

pg 6 – website – animations of earthquake terms

pg 12 (1:01) California 1906 (computer animation)

pg 18 (:59) Seismograph

Physical Geography LB 910 GAG

pg 4 (1:43)  Antarctic sea ice is increasing, Arctic ice decreasing

pg 4 – website – Earth science:  How plate tectonics clicked

pg 8 – website – UN News: 2015  International Year of Soils

pg 10 (2:28)- animated – What makes a rain shadow?

pg 12 – website – plants in Alaska

pg 16 – website –  How much water is there on, in, and above the Earth?

pg 18 – website – Ocean:  Diving deeper than any human ever dived

pg 20 – website – massive earthquake strikes Haiti

Volcanoes LB 551.2 NAU

pg 4 (6:22) About volcanoes (USGS)

pg 6 – website – (:20) An eruption

pg 6 – website – (1:05) Ocean eruption

pg 12 (2:28) Swimming in a oceanic rift

pg 18 (1:53) – Career – Vulcanologist

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