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Earth Science Series 2 of 3: Our Dynamic Earth

Earth Science 2
This is part 2 of 3 in a full year (24 weeks) Earth Science series, lasting 10 weeks.
It is not required, but it is highly recommended that you take these classes in order.
The other sessions in this series incude:
Earth Science 1: Mapping, Minerals, and Rocks (begins in September)
Earth Science 3: Hydrosphere and Atmosphere (begins in January)

In this session, students will be learning about the dynamic nature of this planet we call home—our lithosphere in particular. We will cover the theory of plate tectonics, continental drift, and sea floor spreading. We will then move into natural phenomenon such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and mountain building. Then, we will build upon our knowledge of rocks from session 1 and discuss weathering, soil formation, erosion, and deposition. We will end this session by going back in time—all the way back to the beginning of the earth, 4.6 billion years ago. How do we know earth is this old? We will discuss rock dating and get hands on with it! The session will finish with a timeline of earth’s history, as we work our way through the geologic time scale.

I have created educational videos to accompany the course—some of these will be on site at various areas around the world. In fact, students will come with me (virtually!) to Iceland to study plate tectonics, volcanoes and geothermic features! Each week, there will be a choice of hands on projects for students to complete to reinforce their knowledge of the material.

No live classesview lessons on YOUR schedule. In general, expect 1.5-2.5 hours to work through the lesson plan each week, and an additional 2-5 hours working on assignments (it really depends what assignment your child chooses to do and how they manage their time). For classes with two levels, the material is the same for boththe depth of the assignments differs. Younger students should usually be placed in Level 1. Older students, or younger students who want more of a challenge, should be placed in Level 2.

Each lesson consists of a fully narrated PowerPoint presentation with images and videos to enhance the topics. Students will have access to our learning management system, Canvas, for viewing their lesson, printing worksheets, taking quizzes, viewing/submitting assignments, participating in discussions, and viewing grades/feedback. Read more details about class format.

Week 1
We'll start off our Dynamic Earth unit by focusing on the three major processes that shape our earth- weathering, erosion, and deposition. We'll discuss the causes of these factors and what drives them, as well as some of the features these processes form. There will also be a detailed discussion on the process of soil formation.

Week 2
We're going to get moving this week with mass movement! We'll study creeps, flows, slides, and avalanches- what they are and what causes them. Then we'll learn all about glaciers- the different types, where they are found, and how they shape the earth's surface. Students will travel to Iceland with me (virtually!) to see actual glaciers!

Week 3
Science meets history this week, as we learn about the history of the theory of continental drift and the scientists that led the way toward our understanding of plate tectonics. We'll cover seafloor spreading, the different types of tectonic plate boundaries and movements associated with them, and how the movements of these plates shape our Earth. I will even show the students plate boundaries in Iceland- where I walk from one plate to another!

Week 4
Week 4 is an explosive one, as we'll be learning all about volcanoes! We'll learn about the different types of magma- their composition and viscosity. Then we'll move to volcanoes and what happens with that magma becomes lava! We'll learn the different types, the anatomy of each type, how eruptions happen, and I'll even take students with me into a lava tube and then into the only magma chamber in the world that you can enter in Iceland!

Week 5
We'll be moving and shaking this week as we study earthquakes! We'll talk about the stress that occurs at different plate boundaries, how that stress shapes the earth, and what happens when that stress is suddenly released (spoiler alert: earthquake!). We'll cover the different types of faults, seismic waves and how they are measured, and the Richter and Modified Mercalli scales. Students will learn how the epicenters of earthquakes are determined, and the damage earthquakes can cause. I will be taking students all around the Los Angeles, California area so they can see what living in earthquake country is like!

Week 6
We'll continue climbing through Earth Science with our lesson on mountain formation! Students will learn about the different types of mountains, how they are formed, the types of plate boundaries where they form, and where they can be found.

Week 7
It's time to head back in time- to the very beginning. We'll go all the way back to the Big Bang and learn how Earth itself was actually formed billions of years ago. We won't only cover the history of the Earth, but the history of scientific principles that led to us understanding just how old our year is. We'll learn about the different principles that have been applied to determine the age of rocks- both relative and absolute. Then we're going to learn some chemistry basics so we can better understand the process of radioactive dating and how it works. 

Week 8
We'll start week 8 by digging deep into the topic of fossils! We'll learn what index fossils are and how they help us to age rocks (and our Earth). Then we'll start our major study of Earth's geologic timeline. We'll be working through the different eons, eras, periods, and epochs for the rest of the class. This week, we'll learn all about how oxygen formed on Earth, allowing life to follow. 

Week 9
Life is now bursting forth on Earth in week 9! And then goes practically extinct......and then bursts forth again.....then goes practically extinct.....!! We'll follow the progression of life on Earth through geologic time and study the different extinction events and what caused them.

Week 10
We'll finish up this session of Earth Science by focusing on more "recent" geologic time- the past 100 million years or so! We'll cover the K-PG boundary (which marks the end of the dinosaurs), the most recent ice age, and visit the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles to see what they can teach us about more recent extinctions.

All labs are OPTIONAL!
But if you would like to do them, here are the materials you will need each week.

Week 1 lab materials:
steel wool
3 clear containers with lids
a couple tablespoons of gravel
chalk- the kind that is calcium carbonate based (Prang Hygieia brand on Amazon is PERFECT!!)
½ cup of sand
a straw or piece of paper you can roll up into a straw

Week 4 lab materials:
½ cup dishwashing liquid
6 tablespoons salt
a container to mix it in
something to stir with

Week 5 lab materials:
Slinky toy
geometry compass

Week 7 lab materials:
1 sheet of paper
a timer
2 types of coins: You will need 10 of one type of coin (I’ll be using US quarters) and 10 of another type coin (I’ll be using US pennies). Make sure they are two different sizes.

Next Level Homeschool is a firm believer that not all learning should happen from behind a screen! That's why we give students the freedom to submit their assignments in the way THEY want to! We don't want regurgitation learning here. By allowing students to use their own talents, skills, and passions to complete assignments, they become even more engaged and retain the information. Why? Because now it's literally in their hands! We receive thousands of projects every year from our students: written reports, videos, models, posters, Scratch, Minecraft, Roblox, songs, poems, skits, drawings, sculptures, craftswe've seen it ALL! And WE LOVE IT!!

Click here to view just a few projects we've received from students who have taken this class and see what YOUR kid could be learning with Next Level Homeschool!

Course Features

  • Schedule Oct 3 - Jan 2
  • Activities Science
  • Lessons 10
  • Suggested Ages 11-17 Two Levels