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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

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

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories.

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

ELA/Literacy

  • RST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-ESS3-1)
  • WHST.6-8.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (MS-ESS3-1)
  • WHST.6-8.9 - Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis reflection, and research. (MS-ESS3-1)

Mathematics

  • 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)
  • 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)

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 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Do you have a great resource to share with the community? Click here.
  • In this series of games, your students will learn about renewable and nonrenewable resources, how we use them, how they are distributed, and how they get replenished — or don’t. The Natural Resources learning objective — based on NGSS and state stand...

  • Website with 3D Lesson Ideas. Look in Earth and Space Science MS for The Copper Condundrum

  • Slide deck from NSTA Presentation

  • This activity uses a mix of multimedia resources and hands-on activities to support a storyline of investigation into melting sea and land ice.

  • In this classroom activity, students measure the energy use of various appliances and electronics and calculate how much carbon dioxide (CO2) is released to produce that energy.

  • This teaching activity is an introduction to how ice cores from the cryosphere are used as indicators and record-keepers of climate change as well as how climate change will affect the cryosphere.

  • This short video shows how humanity uses energy today; what sources we use; and why, in the future, a growing global population will require more energy.

  • This video highlights research conducted at Woods Hole on how heat absorbed by the ocean and changes of ocean chemistry from human activities could lead to a tipping point for marine life and ecosystems. Includes ice bath experiment that models the t...

  • This activity includes an assessment, analysis, and action tool that can be used by classrooms to promote understanding of how the complex current issues of energy, pollution, supply, and consumption are not just global but also local issues.

  • This video segment explores whether, in principle, renewable energy resources could meet today's global energy needs of about 15.7 terawatts.

  • This engaging video focuses on national and global wind energy potential by specifically highlighting Texas' role as wind energy leader and energy efficiency efforts in Houston, Texas.

  • This interactive diagram from the National Academy of Sciences shows how we rely on a variety of primary energy sources (solar, nuclear, hydro, wind, geothermal, natural gas, coal, biomass, oil) to supply energy to four end-use sectors (residential, ...

  • This video from the U.S. National Academies summarizes the energy challenges the United States faces, including the technological challenges, and the need for changes in consumption and in energy policy.

  • This video provides an overview of the research of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on converting biomass to liquid fuels.

  • This video and accompanying essay examine ways to reduce the environmental impact of burning coal. Two technologies are discussed: turning solid coal into a clean-burning fuel gas (syngas), and capture and storage of CO2.

  • This NASA video explores the relationship between climate and agriculture. The video discusses the variability of climate impacts in different regions, as well as the effects of population growth and higher demands for food in areas that already str...

  • This short video shows an example of melting alpine glaciers in the Austrian Alps (Goldberg Glacier). Disappearing alpine glaciers have social and environmental impacts, including the decline of fresh water supplies and contributions to sea level ris...

  • This video clip highlights the effort on by a group of young students to ban the use of plastic shopping bags in the city of Santa Monica. The video documents the effort and provides visual testimony of the effects that trash and specifically plastic...

  • This activity is a learning game in which student teams are each assigned a different energy source. Working cooperatively, students use their reading, brainstorming, and organizational skills to hide the identity of their team’s energy source whil...

  • This animated slideshow introduces biodiesel as a fuel alternative. With concern about the use of petroleum-based fuels at an all-time high, biodiesel is experiencing a popularity surge. And algae—otherwise known to some as pond scum— are grabbin...

  • This animation illustrates how heat energy from deep in Earth can be utilized to generate electricity at a large scale.

  • This video segment from the Earth Operators Manual summarizes how fossil fuels are made, provides a comparison of how long it takes to store energy in coal, oil and natural gas, and discusses how fast we're using them.

  • This is a series of 10 short videos, hosted by the National Science Foundation, each featuring scientists, research, and green technologies. The overall goal of this series is to encourage people to ask questions and look beyond fossil fuels for inno...

  • In this video, the mountain pine beetle problem is explained by two scientists. Their research investigates the beetle and how climate change is hastening its spread.

  • This is a collection of five short videos that show how climate change is affecting fishing, native populations and access for the oil and gas industry in the Arctic. The videos include personal reflections by writers Andrew C. Revkin and Simon Romer...

  • This video discusses how the populous areas west of the Andes are largely desert and rely on glacial meltwater as an important source of fresh water. Because the Peruvian glaciers high in the Andes are in rapid retreat, scientists are monitoring the...

  • This video segment, adapted from Need to Know, discusses how the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is used to extract natural gas and how the process may be polluting water resources with hazardous chemicals, leading to health concerns.

  • This video describes how field research -- in this case, making water measurements in rugged mountain locations -- helps us to understand the complex relationships among changing climate, populations, and water usage.

  • This short video discusses where carbon dioxide, the gas that is mainly responsible for warming up our planet and changing the climate, comes from. It discusses how the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide comes directly from the burning of fossil fue...

  • This short video makes the case that rapid climate change affects the whole planet, but individuals can make a difference and make their carbon footprint smaller. Common suggestions are identified for young children to consciously consider what they ...

  • This short video reviews how nations and individuals can work together to reduce the emission of CO2. It discusses strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (energy conservation, renewable energies, change in energy use) and the role that govern...

  • This video segment examines ethanol, a cleaner-burning fuel alternative to gasoline, and the efforts to produce it more efficiently.

  • This video segment is adapted from Building Big, a PBS series hosted by David Macaulay. It explores Hoover Dam's hydroelectric capabilities by explaining how it is able to harness the potential energy stored in the reservoir and convert it to electri...

  • This video segment, adapted from NOVA scienceNOW, addresses how new technology can help monitor and modernize the infrastructure of the U.S. power grid, which is ill-equipped to handle our increasing demand for electricity. Video provides a great ove...

  • This video segment from 'What's Up in the Environment,' shares how an entire home can be constructed using green energy sources (solar and geothermal energy). Video is narrated by young boy whose father is the chief engineer on the project.

  • In this video segment from NOVA's Saved By the Sun hour-long video, students learn about photovoltaics and see how two families are using solar technologies in their homes. The video introduces the ideas of state incentives and net metering benefit...

  • In this activity, students explore energy production and consumption by contrasting regional energy production in five different US regions.

  • This animation presents the characteristics of wind power as a source of clean energy. The viewer may examine how a wind turbine works by pausing and clicking on its components. They include a gear box, rotor, high-speed shaft, generator, wind vane, ...

  • This video describes how geothermal heat resources in California have been tapped to supply 850 MW of electricity. Images and animations show how the area known as The Geysers has been developed to capture steam, produced from trapped rainwater and ...

  • In this video clip from Earth: The Operators' Manual, host Richard Alley discusses China's efforts to develop clean energy technologies and to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, by building coal plants using CO2 sequestration technology. (scroll down pa...

  • This video documents the impact of the 2011 drought on the water supply of two Texas towns. It discusses how the higher temperatures have increased the evaporation from open reservoirs, resulting in a drop in water levels. The use of water in fighti...

  • This video reviews the benefits and drawbacks associated with growing corn to make ethanol.

  • This video is from the Energy 101 video series. It explains the process for converting micro-algae into fuel and makes the case that algae-based biofuels hold enormous potential for helping reduce our dependence on imported oil.

  • This video is one of a series of videos from the Switch Energy project. It describes three types of geothermal sources -- rare ones in which high temperatures are naturally concentrated near the surface, deep wells that require fracturing the rock an...

  • This video is one of a series from the Switch Energy project. It reviews the environmental impacts of various energy resources including fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewables. CO2 emissions as a specific environmental impact are discussed.

  • This video highlights the benefits of electric vehicles, including improved fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, and lower maintenance costs.

  • This video is one of a series of videos produced by the Switch Energy project. It presents the pros and cons of wind power, such as where to build, affordability, efficiency, transmission.

  • This video is one of a series produced by the Switch Energy project. It reviews the pros and cons of natural gas as a source of energy.

  • This suite of short video clips is part of a series produced by the Switch Energy project. There are several video segments that discuss different perspectives of biofuels as a renewable source of energy.

  • This short video shows how different biomass feedstocks are processed and refined into sustainable biofuels via biochemical and thermochemical processes.

  • This video explains what is involved in conducting a home energy audit. Such an audit evaluates how much energy you use in your house and suggests the most cost-effective measures you can take to improve the energy efficiency of your home. The outcom...

  • The Electricity data browser allows individuals and organizations to create, download, or view graphs, reports, and tables based on energy data sets from the US Energy Information Administration. These data sets are updated periodically and include...

  • This video reviews key points as well as pros and cons of nuclear power.

  • In this video, NOAA’s Deke Arndt, Chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch at the National Climatic Data Center, recaps the temperature and precipitation data for the continental US in summer 2012. It describes how these conditions have led to drou...

  • This video takes viewers high into the Rocky Mountain snowpack, where researchers dig snow pits to explore the source of Colorado's water supply. Highlights the importance of snowpack on the supply of fresh water available in western and southwestern...

  • This short activity provides a way to improve understanding of a frequently-published diagram of global carbon pools and fluxes. Students create a scaled 3-D visual of carbon reservoirs and the movement of carbon between reservoirs.

  • This video illustrates the advantages of woody biomass as a renewable, carbon-neutral energy source. Woody biomass is underutilized and often overlooked as a renewable fuel, and it can be harvested sustainably and burned cleanly.

  • This visualization includes a series of flow charts showing the relative size of primary energy resources and end uses in the United States for the years 2008-2012.

  • This video features the story of a multi-generational, family-run dairy business in Oregon. The family strives for sustainability in their operations by conserving energy and reducing greenhouse gases across many aspects of their business.

  • This introductory video addresses key points as well as pros and cons of oil as an energy source for transportation.

  • This video addresses the importance of efficiency in providing power to an increasingly large global population.

  • These five short videos are an introduction to the pros and cons of energy issues, including cost, choices, efficiency, environmental impact, and scale. The videos are segments of a feature documentary entitled, Switch: Discover the Future of Energy.

  • This video describes how Colorado has planned for and uses clean energy resources to reduce its carbon footprint.

  • This video discusses how methane digesters turn waste from dairy cows, food garbage, and other organic matter into usable gases and other fuels.

  • This video features a number of different climate scientists describing the effects of the increasing amount of carbon dioxide on global climate and proposing a series of solutions to mitigate these effects. Video addresses health problems and other ...

  • This video discusses carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere that have increased due to the burning of fossil fuels in electricity generation, transportation, and industrial processes. Video includes history of Keeling and his research, as we...

  • This video uses Bangladesh as a case study by describing climate change adaptation strategies being implemented in Bangladeshi communities as well as in other countries.

  • This series of visualizations is part of a rich multi-agency effort to showcase the usefulness of open data (i.e., data provided in a discoverable, sharable, and machine-readable format) by exploring the 16-year drought as of 2016 and its effects on ...

  • This video segment examines the issue of climate change from the perspective of Native Americans. The video segment was adapted from a student video produced at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.

  • Characteristics of Minerals

  • Distribution of Natural Resources

  • This resource includes 19 informational reading passages to supplement the middle school Earth and Human Activities standards.

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