How far down is the center of the Earth? Is it 5,000 miles? Or as big as the moon is? Really… I want to know! These are the exact kinds of questions we get from our students. Curiosity drives the questions, and this awesome layers of the Earth project answers them!
How big are the layers of the Earth?
My middle school students never seem to grasp the idea of how vast everything around them is. When I teach the layers of the Earth, we draw the diagrams, cut out the foldables, and look at those pie chart like pictures where the layers are so dang even. But I wanted them to really get it. This layers of the earth project has something that the others don’t – the scale size of the layers! You can grab this for your classroom here!
Do you see the picture of the Chromebook and think this isn’t right for your classroom? Keep reading! I have a solution for you!
Let Them Predict
After kids have learned the order of the layers, the project asks them to predict how large each layer actually is. How cool! Students show exactly what they are thinking. You’d be surprised! No matter how much you stress that the crust is really thin, students always overestimate how big it is.
Integrate Math Concepts
After they estimate how thick each layer is, they find the scale size of each layer. The boxes on the grid represent 200 km and using simple proportions, students calculate how many boxes each layer should take up. All of the boxes will be filled to the top of the grid. Bonus: Anytime I can use a math concept for a cross-curricular lesson is a golden opportunity!
Creating The Diagram
Next, they’ll use the scale measurements the found to fill in how think the layers actually are. They have to start at the bottom and work their way up, otherwise they’ll get confused (trust me!). When they’re done, they should label each layer on the diagram.
Finally, they have a chance to reflect on the differences between their two diagrams. I love this part of the project because they get to see how thin some of the layers are. The crust seems so big to them, but when they compare their hypothesis to the 35% of ONE box the crust actually takes up, their minds are blown.
At the very end, they’ll write an informative paragraph explaining the layers of the earth and how scientists find out what is inside, showing what they’ve learned.
Let’s get real for a sec. As you’re asking your students to complete these rather simple tasks, they’re likely to try and talk over you. Check out these tips to manage a chatty class if this is a problem you face!
But I don’t have and tech!!
Don’t worry, I see you looking at the picture of the Chromebook thinking, I don’t have any tech!
Great news! You don’t need any! You can absolutely use this layers of the Earth project with your students on Chromebooks. There’s even a quick start page in the file showing them which buttons to use. But, there are pages in the file specifically for printing!
I’ve used both. In fact, I had a class that was SO SLOW and so difficult to manage one year, four of my classes used the Chromebooks and that class used the paper. Truthfully, I really like both options.
If you’re looking for a project that is relevant and engaging, yet shows students a perspective they rarely see (much less create) this is the project for you!