Geology and Earth's History

  • Geology and Earth's History


         This unit begins with students learning about the basic structure of the Earth.  Students will learn that the earth is basically made up of 4 layers:  the inner core, the outer core, the mantle, and the crust.  Students will learn that it is impossible to "did a hole to China" because of the tremendous heat and pressure you would encounter as you go deeper and deeper into the earth. 

       We move on to review the rock cycle, the three basic types of rocks (sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic), and weathering and erosion.  We take student understandings of these topics to the next level as we begin to discuss the actual age of the planet.  Students will learn about the principle of uniformity (the forces that have shaped earth's surface in the past are still present today), and the Law of Superposition (the lower the layer of rock is, the older the layer of rock is).  Students will learn how we use index fossils and radiometric dating (radio-active dating) to determine the age of a layer of rock.

         We will then move on to review latitude and longitude, and students will demonstrate their ability to plot locations of earthquakes and volcanoes on a map.  This will lead to the discovery of the existence of earth's tectonic plates and the boundaries between them.   We will discuss the fact that the tectonic plates are moving, which causes earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, mountain building, etc.  (Theory of Plate Tectonics).  Finally, we will discuss Pangaea and the many pieces of evidence that support the fact that at one point in time, the continents were all joined together, but then drifted apart over time (Theory of Continental Drift).

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