Hot Spots (Even in Cold Places)

Did you know that there’s an active volcano in Antarctica?

Mt. Erebus, the world’s southernmost active volcano, is located on Ross Island, just off the coast of Antarctica in the Ross Sea. Part of the Ring of Fire, Mt. Erebus is located along the boundary of the Scotia and Antarctic tectonic plates.

Students may be surprised to learn that an active volcano can be found in such a cold location. Yet the heat of a volcano and its lava has nothing to do with weather and climate and everything to do with Earth’s internal structure and the theory of plate tectonics. The connection between plate movement and volcanic activity is part of the typical middle school curriculum and included in the Earth and Space Science content standard of the National Science Education Standards for grades 5-8.

Too often, students’ experience with volcanoes comes in the form of baking soda/vinegar models, which can actually lead to the formation of misconceptions. Instead, use the following resources to help your students more accurately model and visualize volcanic activity.

Volcanoes
http://www.teachersdomain.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.earthsys.lp_volcanoes/NSDL Annotation
In this multi-day lesson, students investigate the processes that build volcanoes, the factors that influence different eruption types, and the threats volcanoes pose to their surrounding environments. After exploring these characteristics, students use what they have learned to identify physical features and eruption types in some real-life documented volcanic episodes. The lesson includes the use of many multimedia resources from the Teacher’s Domain collection.

Mt. Erebus Volcano Observatory
http://erebus.nmt.edu/
The MEVO web site provides background knowledge, video, photos, and other resources about the world’s southernmost active volcano.

Volcanology
http://www.spacegrant.hawaii.edu/class_acts/VolcanologyDoc.html
Five lessons from the Hawai’i Space Grant Consortium provide opportunities for students to learn about magma’s movement inside volcanoes, the stratigraphy of lava flows, structures formed by lava, how particle size affects the angle of a volcano’s slope, and how to measure a liquid’s viscosity. Each lesson includes separate student and teacher pages.

Exploring the Environment: Volcanoes
http://www.cotf.edu/ete/modules/volcanoes/volcano.htmlNSDL Annotation
A problem-based learning module in which students use online information to make decisions regarding four well known volcanoes. Designed for students in grades 7-12, but could be used with younger students needing additional challenge.

Plate Tectonics: Moving Middle School Science
http://msteacher.org/epubs/science/science1/science.aspxNSDL Annotation
The study of volcanoes at the middle school level is incomplete without a connection to the theory of plate tectonics. Discover background information, animations, activities, and standards alignment.

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