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  • Middle School

    Earth and Human Activity

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth's mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes. MS-ESS3-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects. MS-ESS3-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment. MS-ESS3-3

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems. MS-ESS3-4

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  5. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century. MS-ESS3-5

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

Asking Questions and Defining Problems

Asking questions and defining problems in grades 6–8 builds from grades K–5 experiences and progresses to specifying relationships between variables and clarifying arguments and models.

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to constructing a convincing argument that supports or refutes claims for either explanations or solutions about the natural and designed world(s).

Disciplinary Core Ideas

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections


  • RST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-ESS3-1), (MS-ESS3-2), (MS-ESS3-4), (MS-ESS3-5)
  • RST.6-8.7 - Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table). (MS-ESS3-2)
  • WHST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-ESS3-4)
  • WHST.6-8.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (MS-ESS3-1)
  • WHST.6-8.7 - Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration. (MS-ESS3-3)
  • WHST.6-8.8 - Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation. (MS-ESS3-3)
  • WHST.6-8.9 - Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis reflection, and research. (MS-ESS3-1), (MS-ESS3-3)


  • 6.EE.B.6 - Use variables to represent numbers and write expressions when solving a real-world or mathematical problem; understand that a variable can represent an unknown number, or, depending on the purpose at hand, any number in a specified set. (MS-ESS3-1), (MS-ESS3-2), (MS-ESS3-3), (MS-ESS3-4), (MS-ESS3-5)
  • 6.RP.A.1 - Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between two quantities. (MS-ESS3-3), (MS-ESS3-4)
  • 7.EE.B.4 - Use variables to represent quantities in a real-world or mathematical problem, and construct simple equations and inequalities to solve problems by reasoning about the quantities. (MS-ESS3-1), (MS-ESS3-2), (MS-ESS3-3), (MS-ESS3-4), (MS-ESS3-5)
  • 7.RP.A.2 - Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities. (MS-ESS3-3), (MS-ESS3-4)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (MS-ESS3-2), (MS-ESS3-5)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • In the activity Tsunamis, students will predict and observe the wave properties of a Tsunami.The content and activities in this resource will work towards building an understanding of the causes of tsunamis, natural hazards that can devastate low lyi ...

  • In this activity, students compare a map of world wide copper distribution sites to a tectonic map detailing active volcano and plate boundary locations. Once their analysis is complete, students will be able to construct an explanation describing th ...

  • In this lesson, students place "pollution detectors" at various locations near their school capture and examine the air particles they collect to get an idea how much dust, pollen and other particulate matter is present in the air around th ...

  • In the "Cleaning the Air" activity, students use the engineering design/test/build process to create a model indoor air filter and then count and calculate the average number of particles collected. After they have tested their de ...

  • In Watch Your Step, students calculate their own ecological footprint as a measure of the impact of their lifestyle on Earth’s resources. The answers are provided in global hectares and acres and the number of Earths needed to support that life ...

  • Where’s the Water? is the introductory activity to a series of classroom labs designed to study drought. This activity consists of three sections. In Part A, students use cartograms from Worldmapper.org to compare worldwide water consumption to ...

  • In this case study designed by the Purdue Climate Change Research Center, students interpret data about the link between the burning of fossil fuels, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global warming. Students answer focus questions and c ...

  • Students investigate how much greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide and methane) their family releases into the atmosphere each year and relate it to climate change. They use the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Personal Emissions Calculator to estimat ...

  • Students use TUVA Labs data analysis and data literacy tools to describe and interpret hurricane data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center about recent North Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms. They research storm damage related to hu ...

  • This lesson introduces students to the concept of marine debris, especially as it relates to plastic bags.  Students are asked to do a research project measuring the amount of plastic bags they use at home and school and create a communications ...

  •  In this lesson, students learn about hurricanes as a natural hazard as well as some of the technologies used to study tropical storms and hurricanes. The lesson focuses on factors impacting tropical storm and hurricane development including pre ...

  •   Storm Forecasting is a 2-part lesson which is last in a series of 14 lessons on weather and climate. In the first part of the lesson, students track a tropical storm as it develops in the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean using real-time data from ...

  • In the Pollution Patrol lesson, students work in teams to design and build their own outdoor air pollution detectors out of everyday items. They design, refine and then test their air pollution detectors, and then see how many particulate pollutants ...

  • The Middle School unit entitled Climate Change and Michigan Forests consists of 10 lessons on climate change and the local environment in Michigan based on forest ecology research conducted at the University of Michigan. The lessons can be adapted to ...

  • Next Generation Climate contains six lessons on climate change for middle school students. In the curriculum, the students investigate causes of global temperature change, research the major repercussions of climate change, and find out how they can ...

  • The Geology for Investors website is a source of information about why mineral deposits are where they are. The link takes you to the page, “Minerals on the Edge – Plate Boundaries and Minerals.” This provides a basic understanding of how minerals ...

  • Through a simple interactive online model, students learn about the relationship between carbon dioxide emissions, carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere, and average global temperature. The simulation predicts changes throughout the 21st century b ...

  • This computer-based learning module engages students in questions that scientists around the world are exploring about Earth’s climate. They gain an appreciation for how much is not known about the Earth and climate change. The module contains 5 acti ...

  • The president has sent out a memo to engineers in the state of “Alabraska”—your help is needed to save the human population from an asteroid impact! This lesson plan is the first in a series of 8 developed at the Colorado School of Mines. In this int ...

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Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.