8th Grade Earth Science

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Students will describe various techniques for estimating geological time (radioactive dating, observing rock sequences, comparing fossils.)


Techniques used to estimate geological time include using radioactive dating, observing rock sequences, and comparing fossils to correlate the rock sequences at various locations. Deductions can be made based on available data and observation of models as to the age of rocks/fossils.

Clues to Earth's Past: Radioactive Decay

Clues to Earth's Past: Radioactive Decay explains how scientists use radioactive dating to determine the age of an element. Elements radioactively decay, meaning that their nucleus becomes unstable and begins to break down. Scientists can use the half-life of an element to figure out how old the element is. (Discovery Eduation. Video Length 4:51.)

Radiometric Dating

In this video segment, Radiometric Dating, from A Science Odyssey, geologist Ralph Harvey and historian Mott Greene explain the principles of radiometric dating and its application in determining the age of Earth. As the uranium in rocks decays, it emits subatomic particles and turns into lead at a constant rate. Measuring the uranium-to-lead ratios in the oldest rocks on Earth gave scientists an estimated age of the planet of 4.6 billion years. (PBS LearningMedia. Video Length 1:38.)

Radioactive Dating, a Lodge McCammon Song

This song, Radioactive Dating, considers how scientists use rock dating, including radioactive decay, to determine the age of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. (Discovery Education. Song Length 3:09.)

The Dating Game: Radioactive Carbon

This media-rich interactive, 'The Dating Game: Radioactive Carbon,' from NOVA explains how scientists can measure the presence of a radioactive form of carbon—carbon-14—in decaying remains to calculate the ages of bones, cloth, wood, and other organic matter. The technique they use, which is effective for dating objects no more than 40,000 to 60,000 years old with a high degree of accuracy, is called radiocarbon dating. (PBS LearningMedia. Interactive.)

The Rock Cycle

In the interactive, The Rock Cycle, student learn how to distinguish between types of rocks and discover how rocks change over time. (PBS LearningMedia. Interactive.)

Clues to Earth's Past: Fossils

Clues to Earth's Past: Fossils presents fossils as another clue that gives experts insight into Earth's history. The fossil's location in sedimentary rock tells scientists how old the fossil is, and the location of similar fossils across the world tells experts that the continents used to be closer together, but have drifted apart because of tectonic plate shifts. (Discovery Education. Video Length 7:55.)

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Students will understand that earthquakes and volcanic eruptions can be observed on a human time scale, but many processes, such as mountain building and plate movements, take place over hundreds of millions of years.

Mountains, Volcanoes, and Earthquakes

Mountains, Volcanoes, and Earthquakes explores the Earth processes that result in mountain formation, volcanoes, and earthquakes. All of these occur because of plate tectonics, the theory that states that there are plates in the Earth's lithosphere that gradually move. Mountain formation, volcanoes, and earthquakes typically occur at plate boundaries, as a result of the plates colliding, though some volcanoes occur at hot spots rather than plate boundaries. (Discovery Education. Video Length 30:53.)

Mountain Maker, Earth Shaker

The theory of plate tectonics has come a long way since Alfred Wegener first proposed his theory of continental drift. Geologists now have strong evidence to show not only that tectonic plates have moved and are continuing to move, but also to describe what happens when they meet. This interactive activity, 'Mountain Maker, Earth Shaker,' adapted from A Science Odyssey Web site illustrates what happens at the three types of boundaries where plates meet. (PBS LearningMedia. Interactive.)

Life on Fire: Tectonic Volcanoes

In the short video, Life on Fire: Tectonic Volcanoes, students will learn that the Lithospheric plates on the scales of continents and oceans constantly move at rates of centimeters per year in response to movements in the mantle. Major geological events, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and mountain building, result from these plate motions. Understand how convergent and divergent plates can produce volcanic activity at subductive plate boundaries and mid-oceanic ridges. (PBS LearningMedia. Video Length 2:41)

Volcanism

Volcanoes provide spectacular evidence that we are living on a dynamic planet, where land can be created or destroyed without regard to human structures or civilizations. This interactive resource, Volcanism, adapted from the National Park Service provides an introduction to the wonderful diversity of volcanoes, describing how they form and explaining the great variation in their size and shape and in the processes that created them. (PBS LearningMedia. Interactive.)

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Students will:

- explain the transfer of Earth's internal heat in the mantle (crustal movement, hotspots, geysers);

- describe the interacting components (convection currents) within the Earth's system.


The outward transfer of Earth's internal heat drives convection circulation in the mantle. This causes the crustal plates to move on the face of the Earth.

Greatest Discoveries with Bill Nye: Earth Science

Greatest Discoveries with Bill Nye: Earth Science explores: Inside Our Planet — Examines Earth’s inner and outer cores. Exploring the Earth — Illustrates plate tectonics. Earth’s Atmosphere — Describes Earth’s magnetic field and the effects of cosmic radiation. Earth’s Climate Changes — Examines global warming and Earth’s periodic ice ages. Rocks of Ages — Analyzes the methods scientists use to date rocks and minerals. (Discovery Education. Video Length 46:59.)

Geothermal Heats Up

Solar and wind power may get the headlines when it comes to renewable energy, but another type of clean power is heating up in the hills just north of Sonoma wine country. Geothermal power uses heat from deep inside the Earth to generate electricity. Geothermal Heats Up explores The Geysers, the world's largest power-producing geothermal field, which has been providing electricity for roughly 850,000 Northern California households, and is set to expand even further.

Underwater Hotspots

The Hawaiian Islands are a unique island group in that they are an excellent example of land formed from a geologic process that has only recenlty been explored fully by geologists. The islands have been formed from a combination of different sub-surface volcanic activities. This visualization of the process, Underwater Hotspots, which comes from the Voyange to Kure episode of Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures, incorporates the different geoligic processes which have created the islands over thousands of years.

Creating an Island Paradise

Off the southeastern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, an undersea volcano is building a future Hawaiian island. Loihi, the youngest volcano of the Hawaiian chain, shares the Hawaiian hot spot with its larger siblings Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Loihi is expected to breach the ocean’s surface in some 100,000 years. In this video segment, Creating an Island Paradise, from Nature, learn about the beginnings of a new volcanic island. (PBS LearningMedia. Video Length 1:13.)

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Students will understand that the Sun, Earth, and rest of the solar system formed approximately 4.6 billion years ago.

Earth's History

It is difficult for humans to fathom the age of the earth. In Earth's History, learn how the earth formed and the changes that occurred throughout its history. (Discovery Education. Video Length 1:34.)
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