A Closer Look at Earth

Space Science Series

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A Closer Look at Earth

From above and below the surface, students take a closer look at what makes the third planet from the sun so special. They learn to read clues to earth's history in eras, plates, and core structures. They witness the forces that constantly change the surface features, like weathering, erosion, and volcanic activity. They see what our planet is made of. Spectacular NASA footage and lively animation will peak students' curiosity.

Take a closer look at what the Earth is made up of and how it moves in the Solar System.

  1. Students will understand that earth is a planet in space.
    1. Earth is a planet, a large body of rock that circles the sun.
    2. Earth is one of nine planets in our solar system.
    3. The other planets are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Mercury, Venus, and Mars.
  2. Students will know that Earth rotates on an axis and revolves around the Sun.
    1. Earth rotates on an imaginary line, called an axis, that runs through its center.
      i) The north end of the axis is the North Pole and the south end of the axis is the South Pole.
      ii) Day and night happen because the earth rotates.
      iii) It takes 24 hours for the earth to make one complete rotation
    2. Earth also revolves, travels in a circle, around the sun.
      i) It takes 365 days for earth to make one revolution around the sun.
      ii) The seasons are caused by this revolution of earth around the sun.
  3. Students will learn about Earth’s atmosphere and composition.
    1. The layer of gases above earth is called the atmosphere.
      i) The atmosphere keeps earth from getting too hot or too cold.
      ii) The ozone layer helps keep us from being hurt by the sun's strong rays.
      1. The Earth is made up rocks.
        i) A rock is a solid, nonliving earth material found in nature.
        ii) Rocks are made up of minerals.
        iii) There are three kinds of rock: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.
      2. Inside of the Earth are layers of rock.
        i) The newest, outside layer is called the crust.
        ii) The crust is made up of landforms.
        iii) Below the crust is the mantle.
        iv) The mantle is the thickest layer.
        iii) Below the mantle is the core.
        v) Between the mantle and the core is a wavy border of liquid rock called magma.
      3. The inner core of the earth is almost as hot as the sun.
    2. Students will realize that earth's surface is made up of many pieces.
      1. Twelve large pieces of earth's crust called plates fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, moving just below earth's surface.
      2. These plates move very slowly.
      3. As the plates move, they cause changes to earth.
        i) When they scrape and slide past each other, they cause earthquakes.
        ii) Then they run into each other, they cause mountains to form and volcanoes to erupt.
        iii) When plates move under the ocean, trenches are formed.
        iv) When plates pull apart on land, valleys are formed.
    3. Students will understand that earth is always changing.
      1. Weather and erosion change earth over time.
        i) Weathering breaks down rocks.
        ii) Erosion moves small pieces of weathered rock from place to place.
      2. Some changes to earth happen quickly.
        i) Volcanoes erupt and change the land around them.
        ii) Earthquakes push and pull the land, changing earth's surface.
        iii) Floods change the landscape quickly.
        iv) Hurricanes change the earth.

  1. Clay model of Earth. Using different colors of clay, have students construct a three dimensional model of earth. Cut a wedge from the model and label earth's layers.
  2. Miniature weathering and erosion. Create a landscape using sand, pebbles, and clumps of grass (with soil still in roots). Use spray bottle of water, faucet, and cups of water, and hairdryer to show the different effects of water and wind on earth's surface.

  • ID: S1301
  • Subject: Science: Earth
  • Grade Level: 2-5


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