Interactives-Dynamic Earth

Contributor
Ashlinn Quinn Thirteen/WNET New York
Type Category
Instructional Materials Assessment Materials
Types
Simulation , Interactive Simulation , Map , Model , Informative Text , Instructor Guide/Manual , Demonstration , Game , Animation/Movie , Assessment Item
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

Dynamic Earth is an interactive website where students can learn about the structure of the Earth, the movements of its tectonic plates, as well as the forces that create mountains, valleys, volcanoes and earthquakes. This site consists of four sections with both embedded assessments to check progress and a final summative assessment. Each section explores one aspect of the earth’s structure and the movement of its tectonic plates. The instructions are simple and are located on each screen. Students will view animations, read explanations, and use their mouse to drag and drop the earth’s continents into the correct places, highlight features on a map and cause earth’s tectonic plates to move. At various points, students will check their knowledge by taking a quick quiz or playing a game to see how much they have learned about the Dynamic Earth. This website does have teacher information tabs located as related resources.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Middle School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access with user action - The right to view and/or download material without financial barriers but users are required to register or experience some other low-barrier to use.

Performance Expectations

MS-ESS2-3 Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, contintental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.

Clarification Statement: Examples of data include similarities of rock and fossil types on different continents, the shapes of the continents (including continental shelves), and the locations of ocean structures (such as ridges, fracture zones, and trenches).

Assessment Boundary: Paleomagnetic anomalies in oceanic and continental crust are not assessed.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The PE places an emphasis on the plates and boundaries and collisions. The missing element of this PE is the analysis of fossil evidence and rocks. In the Plate Tectonics tab, the opening paragraph of a reading passage mentions plants and fossils found along the coasts of continents, but the students are not actually analyzing or interpreting information on fossils or rocks. A teacher might have a pencil, paper and cut-out modeling activity where the students cut out the continents and line them up to form Pangaea where the fossils are shown. A video of scientists looking at fossil evidence at a dig site would compliment the activity. This activity addresses each other area of the PE through the use of animations, reading passages and drag and drop screens. The series of reading passages and “checking for understanding” activities/quizzes accompany this activity.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The students will read the information in the interactive by clicking on several screens. They will need that knowledge to play the interactive games that check for understanding at the end of each section. For example in the Slip, Slide and Collide tab the students are given case studies where they are shown plate boundaries and geographical features. Students must then decide if the plates are sliding, spreading or pushing apart. The analyzing and interpreting data is a bit thin, but the students do need to analyze and interpret from the reading and the interactive opportunities.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Dynamic Earth does a great job of addressing tectonic processes and plate boundary movement; however, its weakness lies both in its lack of fossil evidence interpretation and explanation of geologic time scale. An activity must be in place with fossil evidence, such as a “Pangaea Puzzle” where students look at fossil evidence included in rock strata to make connections about the locations of the continents. A geologic time scale also can be interpreted to show what the continents looked like during each epoch.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The weak points of this activity are the lack of interpretation of fossil evidence and stratigraphy. The geologic time scale is not mentioned in the activity either. The whole first part of the DCI ESS1.C is barely mentioned or lacking. An activity must be in place with fossil evidence a “Pangaea Puzzle” where students look at fossil evidence included in rock strata to make connections about the locations of the continents can be included. A geologic time scale also can be interpreted to show what the continents looked like during each epoch. The activity does a great job addressing the tectonic processes and plate boundary movement.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students see patterns in the movement of the continents and the formation of the plate boundaries as related to geological processes of the earth.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This activity is strongly aligned to the crosscutting concept of “patterns”, but neither the interpretation the interpretation of fossil evidence and rock strata or the geologic time scale are not mentioned either.

  • Instructional Supports: The instructions and clear organization of this site are impressive. The reading passages are illustrated with models and interactive text. An assessment is included as the final tab. Instructors should review the information in the "About this Interactive"section which is accessible through a tab located at the bottom of the main screen.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The students complete four main sections with interactive components where they have to solve a problem, place something in historical order or make a volcano erupt. The flow leads them to an assessment at the end which is closely aligned to the activities previously completed

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This site allows users to “see for themselves” tectonic processes that take millions of years to happen. The animations are very explicit and do a great job of addressing visual learners. The checking for understanding components are interactive with a mouse and keep everyone on track and moving along.