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  • Middle School

    Earth's Systems

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales. MS-ESS2-2

    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.

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-ESS2-2)
  • SL.8.5 - Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest. (MS-ESS2-2)
  • WHST.6-8.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (MS-ESS2-2)


  • 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-ESS2-2)
  • 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-ESS2-2)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (MS-ESS2-2)

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.
  • Plate Tectonics is an interactive simulation in which users design scenarios involving plate interactions and observe the results over time. The simulation consists of two screens.  In the first, entitled Crust, students can investigate the phys ...

  • This activity gives students a visual representation of how volcanoes and earthquakes are related to plate boundaries and gets students working with real data. This lab also introduces students to the concept of vectors in the form of GPS data showin ...

  • This two-minute video from NBC Nightly News illustrates the role of ocean waves in the geoscience processes of erosion, deposition and weathering.  This clip can be used as an introduction to MS-ESS2-2 which focuses on how these processes have c ...

  • In Plate Tectonics, students are introduced to the theory behind this geophysical phenomenon and investigate the evidence that supports it.  In Part 1, students view Flash interactives and QuickTime videos which delineate the relationship betwee ...

  • Hot Spot Activity is a lesson plan that tasks students with calculating the speed and direction of the Pacific Plate using data from the Hawaiian Archipelago.  Students will use computational and graphing skills to search for patterns in the mov ...

  • The purpose of the activity is to encourage students to (1) engage in a scientific literature review, in this case the mass extinction event that marks the boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods; (2) apply their understanding of that ev ...

  • In this investigation, students will use sand to build a mountain and then use a straw and watering can to simulate wind erosion and water erosion. Students will make observations and then propose ways to slow the erosion and/or speed the erosion. St ...

  •   Musical Plates-A Study of Plate Tectonics is an internet-based multidisciplinary project. Musical Plates - A Study of Plate Tectonics is one of 3 Musical Plates projects found on the k12 science.org” This review is a description of th ...

  • In this short unit students are introduced to erosion and propose solutions to an erosion problem on school grounds. The teacher first briefly demonstrates what erosion is, and then students investigate examples of natural or human caused erosion on ...

  • Clues to Past Environments is a three day lesson culminating with a kinesthetic activity. It is part of a larger unit plan Change and Earth’s History. The three day lesson is organized with specific details including a teacher’s ...

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