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Back in 1963 when LAB-AIDS® shipped its first kit, we had a vision, to revolutionize the middle school classroom with one of the first inquiry-based approaches to learning science through hands-on activity. More Info

SEPUP Texas Edition, Science Grade 6, The Earth Unit

SEPUP Texas Edition, Science Grade 6, The Earth Unit


What happens when a volcano erupts? Is a volcanic eruption likely to occur where you live? Do rocks come from volcanoes? What is a rock? In this unit, students will investigate many aspects of our planet. Students will identify rocks and minerals and discover what causes volcanoes and earthquakes. You will learn about changes to the earth’s surface that take place over very long periods of time and how rocks and mountains are formed.

Content in SEPUP Texas Edition, Science Grade 6, The Earth Unit is organized into 20 activities, as follows:

Activity Title Activity Type Activity Overview
39. Storing Waste Talking It Over The issue of nuclear waste disposal is used to introduce students to rocks, minerals, and earth processes that alter rocks and minerals. The example of Yucca Mountain highlights the scientific and social issues involved in choosing a site for storing nuclear waste. In 1987, the U.S. government chose Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a place to build a storage site, but in 2010, it withdrew its application for the site. In January 2012, the Commission on America’s Nuclear Future recommended that one or more deep disposal sites should be developed. Student groups first read background information on nuclear waste. Then, they evaluate ten statements in order to determine whether each statement provides evidence that either supports or does not support Yucca Mountain as a storage site. Students sort the relevant evidence using a discussion web, and then each student decides whether or not to recommend storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. The concept of risk analysis is discussed.
40. Identifying Rock Types Laboratory Students observe rock samples and refer to a table of identifying characteristics to help identify each rock as either igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary. Students then apply this knowledge to identify the type of rock found at a potential waste disposal site and evaluate whether they think that this site would be safe for building a nuclear waste storage facility.
41. Rock Formation Reading The formation of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks is explained in the context of coal, kimberlite, and marble. Several literacy strategies are included to help students organize and process key concepts. Having this additional information, students revisit the question of which rock type would be appropriate for building a safe nuclear waste storage facility.
42. The Rock Cycle Game Investigation Students play a game that models the rock cycle. During the game, students record what happens to their igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. They share data to summarize the rock cycle.
43. Observing Minerals Laboratory Identifying minerals within a rock is an important step in identifying the rock itself. In this activity, students gather data on a mineral sample and begin to explore properties of minerals by making observations of color, hardness, and crystal shape.
44. Mineral Properties Reading A reading on minerals and mineral properties helps explain why certain minerals like diamonds are so highly valued. Characteristic properties of minerals, such as color and hardness, are further explained. The idea that rocks are made of minerals is reinforced and expanded on.
45. Mineral Identification Laboratory Students are provided with an unidentified mineral that is known to be either calcite or quartz. Students design an investigation to test and identify the mineral. They first select which property would be the most useful for identifying the mineral. After collecting data, they compare the data on the unknown mineral to the properties of calcite and quartz in order to identify the mineral.
46. The Minerals in Rocks Laboratory All rocks are made of minerals, and rocks are often identified by the minerals they contain. Students select a single property to determine whether the mineral found in a rock sample is calcite or quartz. After collecting data, they identify one of the minerals found in granite and one of the minerals found in limestone.
47. Beneath the Earth’s Surface Reading Students describe how deep they think nuclear waste should be buried and what they would observe if they could travel to the center of the earth. Students then read about volcanoes and the interior of the earth.
48. Making Models of Earth’s Interior Modeling Students use information about the actual thickness of the earth’s structural layers— core, mantle, and crust—to construct scale models of the earth’s interior. They start with the same basic diagram from the previous activity’s Talking Drawing, “Beneath the Earth’s Surface,” to construct a scaled, labeled diagram of the earth’s interior. Then they use clay to make an even smaller-scale physical model. Finally, they compare their original thoughts from the Talking Drawing with their scaled diagram and their clay model.
49. Modeling Rock Layers Modeling All types of rocks—sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous—are found in a series of layers that make up the earth’s crust, its rigid and outermost structural layer. In this activity, students model the formation of rock layers of the crust by dropping game chips into a cylinder. The class compares data and develops the ideas that some layers are formed by the ongoing deposition of sediments and that lower layers are usually older than upper layers.
50. Earth Time Investigation Students are introduced to the age of the earth as they place important events in the earth’s history into one of four time periods. They compare their ordering with that of modern geologists.
51. The Continent Puzzle Investigation Students assemble puzzle pieces representing the earth’s continents as they begin to investigate the idea of continental drift. The continental drift theory, first suggested in the 1500s and more fully developed in the early 1900s, helped lay the groundwork for our current understanding of plate tectonics.
52. The Theory of Plate Tectonics View and Reflect Students watch two video segments on the history of the development of plate tectonics, beginning with Wegener’s idea of continental drift. They use Student Sheet 52.1 to review key ideas presented in the video.
53. Mapping Plates Laboratory Students compare the sizes and shapes of continents with those of plates as they color in the continents and trace plate boundaries. The relationship between plate boundaries, earthquakes, and volcanoes is reinforced as students use earthquake and volcano data to both plot and draw missing plate boundaries. Students then label the major plates and use directional data to draw arrows showing the direction that they are moving.
54. Understanding Plate Boundaries Reading Students read about how the theory of plate tectonics helps explain earthquakes, volcanoes, and mountain ranges. They use a literacy strategy known as a DART (directed activity related to text) to organize the information presented in the reading.
55. Convection Currents Laboratory Students explore the mechanism behind plate motion as they investigate convection currents.
56. Spreading Plates Computer Simulation Students utilize a computer simulation to investigate what happens when the earth’s plates move apart. Students investigate the rate of this change on earth as they set the simulation to run for different time periods from 10 years to 20 million years.
57. Other Types of Plate Motion Computer Simulation Students use a computer simulation to investigate what happens when the earth’s plates collide as well as slide past each other. They then compare the similarities and differences among the three types of plate boundaries: sliding (transform), spreading (diverging), and colliding (converging).
58. Comparing Site Risk Talking It Over Students consider risks and advantages of eight possible nuclear waste disposal sites. To make their decisions they examine maps of the United States that show populations, locations of the waste, earthquake and volcano risks, and locations of granite outcrops and aquifers. Each group evaluates the evidence for one of the eight sites and presents the results to the class. The class discusses risks associated with the sites, and students make a site recommendation.

A full suite of course tools is available for teachers, as follows:

SEPUP Texas Edition, Science Grade 6, The Earth Unit

Student Edition

The Student Edition guides investigations and provides related readings. The Student Edition uses a variety of approaches to make science accessible for all students. SEPUP’s integrated literacy strategies help students process new science content, develop their analytical skills, make connections between related concepts, and express their knowledge orally and in writing.

eStudent Edition

Available in both Downloadable and Online access platforms.

SEPUP Texas Edition, Science Grade 6, The Earth Unit

Teacher's Edition

The SEPUP Teacher’s Edition takes you through each activity in the Student Edition and helps you see the development of concepts within the big picture of the units and the course you are teaching. It helps you set up the equipment from the kit, organize the classroom, conduct activities, and manage practical details, all of which enhance students’ learning environment. The Teacher’s edition is packaged as a series of loose-leaf binders that you can personalize with annotations, rearrangements, and insertions. It provides full support for teaching the program. Additional support resources can also found in the Teacher’s Edition.

Complete Materials Package

All SEPUP materials packages are designed with teachers, students and environmental considerations in mind. Traditional laboratory style classrooms are not necessary to teach SEPUP. Materials packages include most of the items needed for the activities. They support multiple classes – typically up to five classes of 32 students (160 total students) – before consumables need to be replaced. It’s important to note that materials are consumed at various rates; therefore, it will not be necessary to replace all consumable items every year. Exclusive to SEPUP programs are the molded tray liners that keep everything in place and easy to locate – even in a hurry.

Online and Technology Tools

These include the Exam View suite of assessment tools and more than 100 web links for each of the three SEPUP 6-8 courses, to be used for basic instruction and enrichment.

SEPUP Texas Edition, Science Grade 6, The Earth Unit Item # Price Quantity