Each of the first four volumes provides 25 probes with easy-to-follow steps for uncovering and addressing students’ ideas by promoting learning through conceptual change instruction. Probes cover topics such as physical, life, and Earth and space science; the nature of science; and unifying themes. Each volume on page 23 provides topic-specific probes. These invaluable books include teacher materials that explain content, identify links to standards, and suggest grade-appropriate ways to present materials so students learn the concepts accurately. Teachers, professional development coordinators, and college science and preservice faculty will find these resources essential and exciting.
The purpose of this assessment probe is to elicit students’ ideas about mountain formation. The probe is designed to determine whether students recognize that some mountains are formed from the uplift of Earth’s crust over a long period of time as a result of tectonic plate interaction, including areas that were once covered by ocean.
Fossil, uplift, mountain formation, plate tectonics
The best answer is Rosa’s: A mountain formed in an area that was once covered by ocean. Over long periods of geologic time, Earth’s crust goes through several changes. Where oceans, shallow seas, and muddy marshes once existed, today there may be mountains. Ancient marine organisms died and were covered with sediments that, over time, hardened and formed sedimentary rock. The imprints left by the hard shells of mollusks and even mineralized parts of their shells remained in the sedimentary rock. Additional layers of sedimentary rock formed over the fossils. Over a long period of time, these layers of rock were uplifted through the movement of tectonic plates to form mountains. As mountains formed, the fossils were elevated along with the rock in which they were formed. Today, the processes of weathering and erosion expose the fossils in the rock that were formed millions of years ago. Marine fossils are found on some of the world’s highest mountain chains, such as the Himalayas, which are still increasing in height today as tectonic plates push the land upward.
Elementary students should have the opportunity to learn about different types of landforms, rocks, and fossils with an understanding that there are processes that change the surface of Earth over long periods of time. Upper elementary students learn how rock layers are used as evidence to understand changes that happen to Earth over time. They use maps to look for patterns of surface features, such as mountain ranges, and begin to develop an understanding of processes related to plate tectonics.
Middle School Students
The study of Earth’s history provides evidence about the evolution of Earth’s features, including the distribution of land and sea, features of the crust such as mountains, and the populations of living organisms that existed at different times. Students develop an understanding that Earth has gone through many changes and that where oceans once existed, mountains may exist today. Students use the theory of plate tectonics and its relationship to the rock cycle to explain changes to Earth. At this level, students move from recognizing patterns of mountain chain formation to understanding how tectonic processes created these mountain chains. Students use evidence from rock strata, fossils, and geologic mapping to better understand geological changes.
High School Students
At this level, students build on their middle school knowledge of Earth’s geologic history, developing an integrated understanding about the Earth system that includes the rock cycle, crustal dynamics, geochemical processes, and the expanded concept of geologic time. They understand and use the evidence base for determining the story of Earth’s crust, climate, and evolving life-forms.
This probe can be used with students in grades 3–12. It may be helpful to show students an example of a shell fossil. You might also show a picture of a tall mountain chain, such as the Andes, where shell fossils have been found.
3–5 ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions
3–5 ESS1.C: The History of Planet Earth
6–8 ESS1.C: The History of Planet Earth
6–8 ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions
9–12 ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large Scale System Interactions
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Rivet, A. E. 2017. Core idea ESS2: Earth’s systems. In Disciplinary core ideas: Reshaping teaching and learning, ed. R. G. Duncan, J. Krajcik, and A. E. Rivet, 205–223. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.
Wheeler-Toppen, J. 2016. Once upon an Earth science Book: 12 interdisciplinary activities to create confident readers. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.
Ford, B., and M. Taylor. 2006. Investigating students’ ideas about plate tectonics. Science Scope 30 (1): 38–43.
Freyberg, P. 1985. Implications across the curriculum. In Learning in science, ed. R. Osborne and P. Freyberg, 125–135. Auckland, New Zealand: Heinemann.
Gould, S. J. 1998. Leonardo’s mountain of clams and the diet of worms. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Keeley, P., and L. Tucker. 2016. Is it a fossil? In Uncovering student ideas in Earth and environmental science: 32 new formative assessment probes, P. Keeley and L. Tucker, 91–94. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.
Marques, L., and D. Thompson. 1997. Misconceptions and conceptual changes concerning continental drift and plate tectonics among Portuguese students aged 16–17. Research in Science and Technological Education 15 (2): 195–222.
National Research Council (NRC). 2012. A framework for K–12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For states by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. www.nextgenscience.org.
Phillips, W. 1991. Earth science misconceptions. The Science Teacher 58 (2): 21–23.
Trend, R. 1998. An investigation into understanding of geological time among 10- and 11-year-old children. International Journal of Science Education 20 (8): 973–988.