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Evaluation of Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics
Standard

7.3:Landforms are the result of the interaction of constructive and destructive forces over time.

Misconceptions and Relevance of Topic

Students often have misconceptions about continental drift and the theories behind plate tectonics. Many think continents move because they are floating on top of an ever changing ocean. Others believe there are gaps between tectonic plates and when those gaps close, earthquakes are responsible for continental movement of those tied to the plates involved. Still others are under the impression that continents float upon a convective molten layer which causes them to move based upon an upward and outward force caused by volcanic activity. In addition, some students think mountains are created rapidly, via a violent collision of tectonic plates, much as the hoods of two cars would rise like a tent in a head-on accident.
The following sites, inclusive of video, readings, simulations, games, and practice tests all aid in dispelling these misconceptions while promoting an inquiry based learning environment where the students may further explore and discuss all the variables related to the history of the super-continent, Pangaea, how the effects of heat, gravity, and pressure impact tectonic activity, and ultimately how the continents came to be where they are and where they are headed in the distant future.


Website
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/astronomy/planets/earth/Continents.shtml


Reading
http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/wegener.html


Audio/Video
http://player.discoveryeducation.com/index.cfm?guidAssetId=29971cbb-3869-4b05-9ab0-80696cb7a4bf&blnFromSearch=1&productcode=HUB

Interactive Simulation/Game
http://www.learner.org/interactives/dynamicearth/index.html

Questions for further study and Assessment
How did Wegner’s theory of Continental Drift evolve into current Plate Tectonic theory?
How do geologists observe the interior of the Earth and measure continental movement?
How do rifts in the ocean contribute to the movement of continents?
What variables contributed to the formation of Mount Everest and how may they affect tectonic activity in the distant future?





Evaluation of Conservation of Energy
Standard
4.4 — Electrical and magnetic energy can be transferred and transformed

Misconceptions and Relevance of Topic
A common misconception about energy is that it is finite and can be “used up” as it does work. Many students fail to understand that in a closed system, energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only converted into another form (whether that form is chemical, physical, or electrical in nature). As only the effects of energy can be observed, and mathematically accounted for, the concept is abstract. Take the example of a battery powering a flashlight where light energy is absorbed by a photovoltaic cell which then converts the light energy back to electrical energy and re-charges the battery. They question why the flashlight “dies” faster over time because they don’t account for heat energy discharge.
The following sites, readings, videos, simulations/games, and self-assessments will provide students the opportunity to explore the properties of energy, and more specifically how energy can be transferred and converted into another form without a decrease in the initial amount discharged.


Website
http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/index.html

Reading
http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/wcee/keep/Mod1/Whatis/Intro.htm

Audio/Video
http://player.discoveryeducation.com/index.cfm?guidAssetId=329E08DB-65A7-4E46-BF5F-292972CC5AC4&blnFromSearch=1&productcode=DSC

Interactive Simulation/Game
http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/energy/site/EIZGame2.asp

Questions for further study and Assessment
How can electrical energy from a battery be used?
If heat is a form of energy, how can it be used to power machines?
Discuss how a car can run without any gas?
How does the energy in the food you eat relate to how the muscles of your body work?
What kind of energy comes from the sun and how is that energy used by plants, animals, and machines?


The Moon
Standard
5.3 — Most objects in the solar system are in a regular and predictable motion.

Misconceptions and Relevance of Topic
Many students are under the impression that what they can see of the moon is related to how the Earth casts shadows on the moon. Some view the moon as a flat object and a source of light while others understand it is spherical but, having a dark side, they can only see the bright half. Another misconception is that the moon is only visible at night. Others believe the moon just dissolves, disappears, and slowly regenerates itself every month.
The following sites, readings, videos, simulations, games, and assessments are designed to demonstrate how the moon’s phases are related to the sun, its orbit around the Earth, the Earth’s rotation, and one’s location upon the Earth. They provide both general knowledge and interactive guides about the moon’s phases, its reflective properties, and visual representations from both earth and above.


Website
http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/time/moon/phases.html

Reading
http://library.thinkquest.org/25097/graphics/moon.htm#intro

Audio/Video
http://www.neok12.com/php/watch.php?v=zX6b5c7f0456765261795b6b&t=Moon

Interactive Simulation/Game
http://www.forgefx.com/casestudies/prenticehall/ph/eclipse/eclipses.htm

Questions for further study and Assessment

How would your view of the moon differ if it rotated faster/slower? Why?
How would the moon look if you lived in the Southern Hemisphere? Why?
Explain why only one side of the moon is visible?
How would the timing of the phases of the moon be affected if the Earth rotated faster?
How would the timing of the phases of the moon be affected if the Earth orbited the sun faster/slower?