The TeachNet Project sponsored with major funding by the AT&T Learning Network

seeks to improve student achievement by providing training, grants, networking and resource sharing to teachers at four of the Teachers Network affiliates nationwide.

Bubble and boil, rock, and roll- Geoscience by kids

Bubble and boil, rock, and roll- Geoscience by kids

How it works:

The big idea of this unit is to give students the task and opportunity to do the kind of research, decision making, and implementation that teachers do for all important learning. The teacher provides the guideposts and then works as much as possible as a facilitator and "librarian". Student teams are responsible to schedule and teach with both web and hands-on learning activities, in order to pass on the expertise they have gained in their research on a focus area.

Main goal is to have each group deeply understand their specialty area.

All students will learn basic information and concepts, while learning about the process of teaching and learning from a teacher's point of view.

Students are teachers, the teacher is "librarian" and mentor.

Teacher selects areas to assist and reinforce learning as appropriate, including:

-- generalizing the "big ideas" from activities, pre-activities review/preview

- General help in how to read web pages for information and comprehension

- lab safety, data recording and analysis

- writing and drawing skills

- points of scientific accuracy

- keeping on track and meeting deadlines

- assigning homework as necessary for reinforcement or finishing activities

Idea of Activities: (This is a starter guide for student teams)

Resources and Teaching Tools


All people don't learn well in exactly the same way. Teachers need to have different ways of opening up learning. Here are some that your team will want to use. (Some you will probably do as a whole "teaching team", and others may be led by 1-2 of you)


1. Direct them to internet sites you've found, and have them read, play animations, take notes.

Every team will use the internet for part of their teaching.


2. Show them posters and diagrams, and explain to them what you've found about your topic.


**3. Do a "hands-on" activity, either an experiment that shows a process, or making a picture or model that helps their understanding. (some great ones use FOOD to model with)


4. Do slide show presentations, or show parts of videos, stopping it to explain important parts, and to have them take notes they need.


5. Do a mini-quiz after your activity.... 4-5 questions to check for understanding.

(write the questions or use those off the Final Exam... whichever is best)

6. Have students write/read short summaries.


7. Other ideas you think will work?? How do YOU learn best????________________________


>> Set aside special time in every activity to take questions and have discussion!


The teacher assessment is a pretest/posttest . Teacher needs to prepare an appropriate pretest for the standards they are addressing.

(this pre-test was prepared from the Holt Earth Science 1 Stop Planner CD, using the California science standards for 6th grade).

However, it is a VERY fruitful collaboration to development activity assessments with each expert team


Key Standards include: (from California)

Science Standards:

1. Plate Tectonics and Earth's Structures

a. Evidence of plate tectonics is derived from the fit of the continents, the location of earthquakes, volcanoes, and midocean ridges; and the distribution of fossils, rock types, and ancient climatic zones.

b. Earth is composed of several layers: a cold, brittle, lithosphere; a hot, convecting mantle,; and a dense, metallic core.

c. Earthquakes are sudden motions along breaks in the crest called faults and that volcanoes and fissures are locations where magma reaches the surface.

d. Major geologic events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and mountain building result from plate motions.

Language Arts Standards:

Reading: (word analysis and vocabulary development)

Use context to determine meaning of an unknown word.

Reading Comprehension:

2.3 Clarify main ideas, connecting to other topics

2.4 Create outlines, notes, and summaries

2.5 Follow multiple step directions.

Software or Materials Used:

Internet is a must, as well a selection of books, video, cd-roms.and teacher materials relating to geosciences.


Geology, plate tectonics, earthquakes, rock cycle, volcanoes, geoscience

The Students: 

Students need to have, or develop team skills, adept use of the internet (at least navigation of educational sites, online notetaking, and file management). In addition, the ability to present and lead other students is a prime objective of this unit, so the ability to work with the teacher on the content and mode of presentation is important. This unit has been do two years with 6th graders at a Junior High, who had a great deal of access to technology all year, including LCD projectors, digital probeware and microscopes for science, and video and still cameras. However, any motivated junior high students can do this if the teacher is willing!

Overall Value:

This is a project for a teacher who is confident enough in ready access and their own understanding of technology and the science involved to let go of direct instruction, and truly give the bulk of responsibility to the students. In the latter part of  schoolyear in which the students and teacher had bonded together in project based learning, this is a truly fruitful way to open up the otherwise "hands-off" concepts in geoscience.


Subject Area: Geoscience

 Starting Grade Level:   6

 Ending Grade Level: 9 (could go through High School)

Tips for the Teacher:

It is not geared towards the teams working hours on making powerpoints, but rather in carefully selecting the best resources on the web, in videos, and from lab books, to give the other students a chance to build learning. Each team works with the teacher on how best to assess learning from the activities. Suggestions for assessments that they understand and can lead students through are listed in Assessment.




Jeff Foote
School: Kermit McKenzie Jr. High, Guadalupe, CA


Jeff Foote has been teaching for 12 years in Santa Barbara County, all in the rural agricultural district of Guadalupe, California. As a bilingual educator with special emphasis in science, he has found a wide range of uses of technology to be both inspirational to students, and a great way for language learners to produce high quality communication. He has been a project facilitator for several National Science Foundation projects, and worked in district, county, and state mentoring for technology and science. He thinks that projects like TeachNET are  a great chance for more teachers to go beyond downloading, and become "uploaders" . Jeff welcomes e-mail comments and questions about any of his TeachNET units.