Using Real Data in Life, Earth, and Physical Sciences Classes

When students interpret data and communicate inferences, they are building skills that will help them solve problems throughout their lives. With the investigations featured in these resources, students will collect data and present and analyze their findings. These skills are an important part of the Science as Inquiry strand in the National Science Education Standards.

Monarch Watch
This network of students, teachers, and researchers is dedicated to the tagging, rearing, and study of the monarch butterfly. Each spring, the network publishes a season summary that contains tag recovery data, tips and ideas for teachers and students, observations on monarch populations, and new information on monarch biology. Other projects include life history studies, flight vector analysis, and butterfly gardening. A K-8 science curriculum titled Monarchs in the Classroom (available through the mail) offers standards-based lessons.

Boil, Boil, Toil and Trouble: The International Boiling Point Project
Which do you think has the greatest influence on the boiling point of water: room temperature, elevation, volume of water, or heating device? The answer to this question requires input from people all over the world, and this online collaboration allows your students to enter the investigation. The students will boil water, under controlled conditions, record information, and post it online. They can analyze the data sent in by others worldwide and reach their own conclusions on what makes a pot of water boil.

Musical Plates: A Study of Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics
In this series of lessons, students use real-time data to study the correlation between earthquakes and tectonic plates and to determine whether or not there is a relationship between volcanoes and plate boundaries. The science and the data analysis are demanding but still within the range of upper-level middle school students. Four activities, each designed to be used in a 45-minute class period, teach students how to access and interpret real-time earthquake and volcano data. Three enrichment lessons follow in this teacher-friendly unit.


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/19/2012.

Seafloor Spreading

Seafloor spreading can be a difficult concept for middle school students to grasp. These resources should help make the concept comprehensible through the use of images and animations and by acknowledging the concept’s larger context of plate tectonics.

Harry Hess: One of the Discoverers of Seafloor Spreading
This detailed biography shows how Hess’s skills enabled him to contribute to the scientific knowledge base of seafloor spreading and how his observations, models and predictions support the theory of plate tectonics.

The Distance Between Us and Them: Seafloor Spreading in the Atlantic Ocean
In this activity, students gain an understanding of how geologists determine rates of seafloor spreading. Using a strip map of the North Atlantic seafloor, students measure distances and note the ages of the strips of basalt. They also gain experience in applying mathematical concepts such as calculation and use of velocities and conversion from one set of units to another.

Seafloor Spreading
This page, part of the NeMO project, provides a concise explanation and a graphic representation of seafloor spreading and its relationship to divergent tectonic plates. Related links at the bottom of page include a link to mid-ocean trenches.

This Dynamic Earth: The Story of Plate Tectonics
This free, online booklet, containing photos and graphic illustrations, puts the idea of seafloor spreading in the larger context of plate tectonics.

Interactive Animation of Seafloor Spreading and Magnetic Field Reversals
Earth’s magnetic field reverses itself from time to time; North becomes South and South becomes North. Rocks on the seafloor on either side of a mid-ocean spreading ridge preserve a record of the Earth’s magnetic field over time. This page also shows how distance from the ridge is related to age or time.


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 11/08/2011.