Astro-Venture  NASA

Geology Training National Standards and Objectives

Click here to download PDF of correlation to California State Standards

The Astro-Venture Geology Educator Guide has been developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the purpose of increasing students' awareness of and interest in astrobiology and the many career opportunities that utilize science, math, and technology skills. The lessons are designed for educators to use with students in grades 5-8 in conjunction with the Astro-Venture multimedia modules on the Astro-Venture Web site.

Geology Introduction

In the Geology section, students begin as Junior Geologists where they complete the online Geology Training module to discover the geological conditions that make Earth habitable to humans. When they have successfully completed their training, they earn their certificate and are promoted to Senior Geologist. They then engage in offline Geology lessons to discover why we need the geological conditions identified in Geology Training and are introduced to the role Earth’s geology plays in terms of maintaining a moderate surface temperature and helping to protect life from harmful space radiation. The unit concludes with students connecting their new knowledge to systems they explored in the Astronomy and Atmospheric Science units and summarizing their learning through a written guided tour of the Earth’s interior and processes that describes the importance in each to helping to maintain the habitability of Earth.



Geology Unit

Unit Concept: The structure and properties of the Earth affect human survival.

Overview of the Geology unit: Using an online, multimedia module, students make changes to the Earth's interior and draw conclusions about which factors are necessary for human survival. Students then engage in classroom activities that explore the effects of heat and pressure on states of matter, density, and movement through convection. They further explore the resulting process of plate tectonics and volcanoes and the roles these play in the carbon cycle. Finally, students investigate the Earth's magnetic field and connect their learning to the systems they explored in Astronomy and Atmospheric Sciences.

Standards Alignment

Lesson Main Concept Objective Benchmarks/ Standards
1. Geology Training Module Certain geologic conditions help to support human survival.
  • Students make changes to Earth's interior and write descriptive, objective observations of the effects of these changes on Earth.
  • Students will identify the characteristics of Earth's structure that are required to allow for human survival.

NSES: A 5-8 #1
ISTE: 3, 5

Partially Meets:
NSES D 5-8 #1.1
NSES D 5-8 #1.2

2061: 4B 6-8 #2


2. Temperature, Pressure and the Earth Temperature and pressure are key factors that determine geologic conditions.
  • Students will explain that temperature and pressure are key factors that determine geologic conditions.
  • Students will explain that the amount of temperature or pressure required to change states differs with substances due to the strength of their molecular bonds.
Partially Meets:
2061: 4C (6-8) #1
NSES: D (5-8) #1.1
3. Density Density determines whether a substance will float on another substance and thus affects the composition of Earth’s layers.
  • Students will explain the properties that allow a substance to float.
  • Students will write an essay describing the thickness, composition, and density of the layers of the Earth, and will explain how density relates to the Earth.

2061: 4D (6-8) #2
NSES: B (5-8) #1.1

4. Convection in the Earth The interior of the Earth is hot. The heating and cooling of the mantle results in convection cells and movement inside the Earth.
  • Students will use the inquiry process to identify temperature as a condition that can change the density of a substance and affect movement.
  • Students will illustrate and describe how a change in density can cause movement inside the Earth.
  • Students will explain convection cells.
NSES B (5-8) #3.2

Partially Meets:
2061: 4C (6-8) #1
2061: 4E (6-8) #3
2061: 4E (3-5) #2

5. Plate Tectonics and Volcanism The Earth’s solid crust is composed of separate sections that constantly move on a partially molten layer of the upper mantle. Major geologic events such as volcanic eruptions result from these plate motions.
  • Students will describe where volcanoes occur and why they occur at those locations.
  • Students will explain the theory of plate tectonics and the relationship between plate tectonics and volcanoes.
  • Students will draw and explain a model of plate tectonics.

2061: 4E (3-5) #2
NSES: B (5-8) #3.2
2061: 4E (6-8) #3

Partially Meets:
2061: 4C (6-8) #1

6. Carbon Cycle The movement of the crust and mantle allows carbon to be cycled in and out of the atmosphere, stabilizing the surface temperature.
  • Students will draw and explain the steps in the carbon cycle.
  • Students will perform two skits that show the carbon cycle process and what would happen if carbon were no longer released into the atmosphere by volcanoes.
  • Students will explain how Earth's geological structure is important to the carbon cycle and the importance of the carbon cycle for life.
Partially Meets:
2061: 4C (6-8) #1
NSES: D (5-8) #1.4

7. Magnetic Field and Life

The movement of the liquid outer core as the Earth rotates causes a magnetic field that, with the atmosphere, protects us from solar wind and space particles.
  • Students will observe and describe magnetic forces and fields.
  • Students will use the inquiry process to develop a temporary magnet using electricity and will observe and describe the relationship between electricity and magnetism.
  • Students will describe the dangers that the Sun presents to human life and will illustrate and explain how the Earth is protected from these dangers by the atmosphere and Earth's magnetic field.

NSES: B (K-4) #3.4
2061: 4G (6-8) #3

Partially Meets:
2061: 4G (9-12) #2
2061: 4G (9-12) #5
NSES: B (K-4) #3.3

8. Geology Conclusions: Summarizing Learning

The Earth's structure is an important part of the Earth's system, which is composed of several layers. The movement of these layers affects the atmosphere and biosphere.
  • Students will draw and explain concept maps that show how the Earth's interior characteristics and processes interact with many different systems to support human habitability.
  • Students will write a guided tour for the Earth’s structure and processes explaining how these processes contribute to a habitable planet for humans.

Partially Meets:
2061: 4C (6-8) #1

2061: 4B 6-8 #2
2061: 11A 3-5 #1
2061: 11A 3-5 #2
2061: 11A 6-8 #2
2061: 11A 6-8 #3
NSES: D 5-8 #1.8



More Resources

The following link contains a wide variety of activities, web sites, events, organizations, and contests related to Astro-Venture and Astrobiology. The resources are geared for all grade levels, from kindergarten through graduate school.
Go to the resources!