Maps for Science

As students investigate such national and global issues as climate change, water shortages, deforestation, endangered species, or shifting tectonic plates, online thematic maps can connect the issues to locations. Often these maps provide supporting data. Here are some sources of thematic maps that can be useful in the science classroom.

The Map Guide
Here is a collection of dozens of links to online maps of all types — physical, political, historical, and weather — from all parts of the globe.

Earth Pulse
In its coverage of conservation themes, National Geographic.com offers related maps showing impacts on oceans, climate, mineral resources, and terrestrial ecoregions.

Geologic Maps
To enable all of us to read geologic maps, the U.S. Geologic Survey published this easy-to-understand online guide.

Astronomy for Kids
The sky as seen from Indianapolis, Indiana, is mapped weekly at this site. Find a tool in the resources section to create your own map by your latitude and longitude or a nearby city name.

AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment
Along with extensive text on the impact of human populations on ecosystems and natural resources, the online atlas contains maps illustrating land use, population density, biodiversity, and more. With free registration you can create a personal copy of the atlas.

How Do Seasonal Temperature Patterns Vary Among Different Regions of the World?
Hands-on experience with recording temperature data on contour and dot maps is available to classrooms using the GLOBE Program.


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 10/16/2011.

Waves

The National Science Education Standards (NSES) tell us that students in grades 5-8 should “begin to see the connections among . . . [energy forms] and to become familiar with the idea that energy is an important property of substances and that most change involves energy transfer.” Yet there is no explicit direction to introduce students to waves in the context of energy. But what better way to help students connect the mechanical energy of visible ocean waves to the “work” they can do in moving objects all the while transferring energy from kinetic to potential and back? Resources provided here will help you help your students begin to conceptualize waves and their relationship to energy.

Waves and Wave Motion: Describing Waves
This module introduces the history of wave theories, basic descriptions of waves and wave motion, and the concepts of wave speed and frequency.

Seismic Waves
How can P and S waves predict the inner structure of the Earth? Students activate four seismographs that send out P and S waves and watch as the waves are reflected and refracted while moving through the Earth and are asked a series of questions about the waves and interior of the Earth. From the results and provided information, students see how the movement of P and S waves predicts structure within the Earth.

Sound
This site, created by and for 5th grade science students and educators, explores, illustrates, and explains the science of sound and music, including compression waves.

Waves, Sound and Light
These online applets or “gizmos” cover prisms, refraction, and ray tracings with lenses and mirrors. Each gizmo allows users to manipulate variables such as wave length or angle of reflection and each is accompanied by an illustrated, printable guide. The Explore Learning site requires a subscription but does offer a 30-day free trial and five minutes of free access each month for each of the applets.


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 10/16/2011.

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.

Fossil Formation

The National Science Education Standards Life Science Content Standard mentions that fossils indicate extinct species and contribute to an understanding of evolution and diversity. The Earth and Space Sciences Content Standard tells us they provide clues about past environments. But what is a fossil? How does it form? The processes can be complex. An understanding of fossil formation will enable accurate student conceptions of related science concepts including methods of science in geology, paleontology, and evolution.

Becoming a Fossil
This short video clip from NOVA is accompanied by an essay and discussion questions all describing the rare conditions under which fossils form and are found. Free registration is required.

What is a Fossil? How Do They Form?
This page provides a concise explanation and illustrations of Ammonites fossil formation via permineralization – when the pores of the plant or animal remains are impregnated by minerals. When this happens, the original shape of the object is not changed.

Fossilization
The information on this page is good, if you can bear the bright green background! It includes some vocabulary and how environmental conditions determine the fossil category. There are useful links at the bottom as well to teacher resources.

Fossils, Rocks, and Time
This online book, published by the U. S. Geological Survey, discusses the use of fossils in determining the age of rocks. The book covers how to place events in correct temporal order, a description of the geologic time scale, the use of fossils to indicate rock ages, the law of fossil succession, index fossils, and radioactive dating.


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 11/14/2011.