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STC Secondary: Exploring Plate Tectonics

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STC Secondary: Exploring Plate Tectonics is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 3.
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Exploring Plate Tectonics not only helps students clarify what they already know about earthquakes, volcanoes, and plate tectonics, it deepens their understanding of their world and some of the powerful natural events that significantly affect it. By performing a series of engaging hands-on activities based on the manipulation of simple models and the study of maps, students extend and enrich their knowledge of the structure of the earth's interior and crust.

 
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Exploring Plate Tectonics not only helps students clarify what they already know about earthquakes, volcanoes, and plate tectonics, it deepens their understanding of their world and some of the powerful natural events that significantly affect it. By performing a series of engaging hands-on activities based on the manipulation of simple models and the study of maps, students extend and enrich their knowledge of the structure of the earth's interior and crust.

Benefits of kit use:

  • Conceptual sequence helps students retain and apply knowledge and experience to problem-solving strategies in new contexts
  • Completes hands-on activities with lower levels of student disruptions, allowing teachers to summarize the results and meaning of the activities
  • Supports STEM initiatives as students work to develop 21st-century skills in science, math, technology, and engineering to prepare for careers in the global marketplace
  • Fosters a positive attitude toward science

STC-Secondary™ is a 16-unit, inquiry-centered middle school science curriculum developed by the National Science Resources Center (NSRC), an organization of the Smithsonian Institution. Each STC-Secondary™ unit provides opportunities for students to experience scientific phenomena firsthand. A comprehensive, research-based curriculum, STC-Secondary™ is aligned with the National Science Education Standards (NSES) of the National Research Council (NRC).

As students progress through a series of experiences, they compile evidence for the theory of plate tectonics, including patterns of earthquakes, shapes of the continents, paleomagnetism, the fossil record, and convection of the mantle. They also investigate different types of volcanoes, how they form, and how they affect the land and life around them. As students take more responsibility for their own learning, they plan and conduct their own procedures, devise their own tables, and analyze the results they obtain.

Each lesson in Exploring Plate Tectonics builds on skills and concepts presented in previous lessons. The unit begins with an assessment of students' current understanding of the topic and ends with performance-based and written assessments.

 
 
 
 
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great inquiry/student-based learning This is exactly what we were looking for to improve the amount of hands-on learning experiences for our students. It does a lot of extra time to prepare and get used to how the program works, but once teachers and students get the hang of it, it is very effective. The lessons take longer than their recommended timeline.
Date published: 2015-09-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pros and Cons A few pros of the curriculum: 1. The curriculum isn't about memorizing content. It's about learning how science is done and how scientists come to know what they know. The first few lessons of this text are great at demonstrating this: students look for patterns in data, use the patterns to make connections, and then apply their knowledge to make inferences about our planet. Many times the students are asked to argue and defend positions. That's amazing! Even better: this is not a 6-step-scientific-method curriculum. Science is done in so many ways other than the oft-glorified 6-step method. In this curriculum students study models, create models, design controlled investigations, develop mathematical relationships, etc. It's not about testing a hypothesis, rinse, repeat. It's about understanding the nature of science (making claims, arguing, communicating, etc.). 2. The teacher background for each lesson is great at getting those out-of-the-loop in earth science up to speed with the basics. 3. The lessons include lists of common misconceptions that can be addressed with the students. 4. The activities use actual data and other historical records. It's easy to extend these, too, by including more recent data sources. Yay for exposing students to messy data! Too often science curriculums provide perfect data. This kit does not: students are expected to identify outliers and come up with inferences as to what those mean. 5. It's easy to modify the investigations to fit the needs of your students. Many times we don't read lesson instructions. We identify the central question and talk about how we would answer that question. We design our own investigation and go from there! (And we still get the same outcome the lesson is going for.) 6. Carolina is great at replacing supplies that need to be replaced due to reasons beyond the control of the teacher. For example, one of my items was damaged during shipment. It took one call to Carolina and the problem was resolved! 7. There are a few extension lessons included in the kit. These are great lessons. A few criticisms though: 1. Some of the materials are completely outdated. For example, one of the movies included in the kit was made in the early 1990s. Something more recent would be much better. 2. Lesson 6 of the unit is a very dull lesson. Students sit through a CD-ROM presentation on plate theory and plate interactions. We replaced it with a research activity instead where students became "experts" in an area of plate theory. They shared their findings in a science conference format (round tables, poster-sessions, and Q&A). 3. This kit was published just before the Next Generation Science Standards. So, it isn't necessarily aligned with the new standards. It's easy to figure out how it is aligned. But, it would be helpful for Carolina to publish an alignment guide or similar. 4. The online textbook is near impossible to use with an iPad. It works great on a desktop or laptop. However, the online book is flash based and that means, without downloading a third party app, the textbook won't work on an iPad. Carolina recommends using Puffin Academy to access the book. Yet, it is extremely difficult to use the online textbook through Puffin. We hope Carolina will release their own application to make the textbook friendlier to use. 5. All teacher resources (including answer keys, tests, data sheets, etc.) are available online. Woohoo! But students can access them, too. Oh. Requests for this to be resolved were addressed, but the materials are still available online for anyone to access. 6. Some of the activities do not include answer keys. While this isn't a bad thing as any teacher should be able to do the activities, it's a time loss. 7. The kit doesn't contain everything you need to run the lessons as instructed (and I'm not talking about the provide-your-own supplies). For example, the lesson on using a seismograph comes with two model seismographs. This would be great for a class of 6 students. 8. The kit cannot be carried out in the 45 days (with 50-60 min periods) they suggest it can. I don't know how anyone can do it in 45 days without having thorough discussions and scientific investigations. The 45 day timeline must assume that everything goes perfectly.
Date published: 2015-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great unit! This kit provides everything you need to teach plate tectonics in a hands on way.
Date published: 2014-12-12
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