AACT Classroom Resources with Cross-Disciplinary Concepts: Connections to Geology & Earth Science

By Kim Duncan on August 23, 2016

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) recommends that K-12 science teachers take a new approach to help their students recognize connections between the big ideas and the different disciplines of science. AACT offers its members many classroom lesson plans, activities, labs, demos, and multimedia resources to help teachers make interdisciplinary connections for their students in specific content areas. Over the next blog posts we will share some of our cross-disciplinary resources, starting with those that make connections between chemistry and geology & earth science.

Test Tube Geology [High school]- This lab introduces students to experimental design with a focus on collecting qualitative data. It also shows students connects between chemistry and geology and introduces students to a Scientific Writing Heuristic. The lab requires about 30 minutes to set up and will take students about 60 minutes to complete.

Chemical Weathering in Geology [Middle school]- This lab explores the differences between erosion, weathering and chemical weathering. Students will complete a lab experiment that simulates chemical weathering on four different types of rocks. They will also learn how to use the Mohs Hardness Test to analyze the results. This activity will take about 15 minutes to set up and take the students 50 minutes to complete.

Break It Down! Lab [Middle school]- Students will examine the physical and chemical changes that take place within a landfill by composting leftover fruits and vegetables from their lunches. They will also record pH and temperature measurements during the process. There is minimal teacher prep time for this lab and should fill one class period.

Environmental Problems Lesson Plan [Elementary school]- Students are presented with an environmental problem to solve using important concepts of chemistry, which involves a lake with deteriorating water quality. Students are provided with a map of the area, its history, a list of problems that are occurring at Lake Kamari, and water-quality data. They are challenged to determine the cause of the problems and come up with possible solutions. The lesson brings together elements of chemistry, biology, and Earth science. Additionally, NGSS and Cross-Disciplinary Extensions addressed in this lesson. Teachers will need 30 – 60 minutes to prepare samples of water with various pH values. This is a 5E lesson plan that requires students to Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate a problem. You should allow 250–350 minutes to complete the entire lesson.

Sandy Beaches—A Foray into ‘Magic’ Sand Lesson Plan [Middle school]- In this lesson, students will investigate the properties of magic sand and learn about the concept of hydrophobic and hydrophilic molecules. It also introduced students to the field of nanotechnology. Teacher preparation time is 10–15 minutes and the lesson can be completed in 40–60 minutes.

Sam Kean’s Disappearing Spoon Video Series [All grades]- Each video in this classroom resource series tells the story of an element from the Periodic Table. The following elements are in the series: Aluminum, Arsenic, Astatine, Cadmium, Gallium, Gold, Helium, Hydrogen, Manganese, Mercury, Phosphorus, Silicon.

ChemMatters Magazine [High school]- ChemMatters magazine is an award-winning magazine for high school chemistry that can be integrated into daily instruction. Every article includes a Teacher’s Guide that includes reading strategies, student questions and answers, anticipation guides, and background information. Several recent articles that connect chemistry with geology and earth science include:

  • December 2015 – Geothermal Power: Hot Stuff
    Most of the energy needed to light and heat our homes comes from burning fossil fuels, a process that generates pollution and contributes to climate change. But a clean and sustainable source of energy is also available under our feet, and it is called geothermal energy.
  • October 2015 – Dirt? Who Needs It? How Hydroponics Is Poised to Change the World
    The amount of land suitable for agriculture, and the stores of water needed to grow crops are shrinking. So, how will people feed themselves in the future? Hydroponics, a type of agriculture that does not use soil, may provide a solution.