Earth Science Reading Passages | Environmental Science Distance Learning

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    1. Earth Science Curriculum | Environmental Science Distance Learning {DIGITAL & PRINT}UPDATE: DIGITAL Interactive Notebooks and Interactive Google Slides Included! UPDATE: Reading Passages are now included (48 passages just added to the bundle!) The Earth Science Curriculum Resource contains the f
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    Earth Science & Environmental Science Reading Comprehension Passages, Worksheets, Questions, and Annotations Bundle!

    This bundle contains a total of 48 Engaging, Non-Fiction Reading Comprehension Passages with Directions for Student Annotations! Reading Comprehension Questions also included! It contains 10 StudentSavvy Reading Passage & Expository Text Resources!

    Units include: The Rock Cycle, Rocks and Minerals, Ecosystems, Biomes, Photosynthesis, Energy, Earth's Cycles, Plate Tectonics, Weather and Climate, Volcanoes

    Questions & Answer Keys for Each of the 48 Reading Passages!


    Aligned with Earth Science Interactive Notebooks and PowerPoints

    Find the Complete Earth Science Curriculum Here!

    What’s included in the bundle (overviews of each unit):



    1.) The Steps of the Rock Cycle

    -Overview of the three types of rocks (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and how they are formed.

    -Provides description of the step by step process of the Rock Cycle

    Keywords: igneous rock, sedimentary rock, metamorphic rock, basalt

    2.) Changes in Our Landscape

    -Overview of the 3 types of events that create changes in our landscape (weathering, erosion, deposition)

    -Describes weathering in detail

    -Describes erosion in detail

    -Describes deposition in detail.

    Keywords: weathering, erosion, deposition, sediments

    3.) All About Igneous Rock!

    -Overview of how Igneous rocks are formed

    -Description of characteristics of igneous rock (how you can identify them)

    -Examples of different types of igneous rocks

    -Overview of intrusive and extrusive rock types

    Keywords: Igneous rock, intrusive rocks, extrusive rocks

    4.) All About Sedimentary Rock!

    -Overview of how sedimentary rocks are formed

    -Description of characteristics of sedimentary rock (how you can identify them)

    -Examples of different types of sedimentary rocks

    Keywords: sedimentary rock

    5.) All About Metamorphic Rock!

    -Overview of how metamorphic rocks are formed

    -Description of characteristics of metamorphic rock (how you can identify them)

    -Examples of different types of metamorphic rocks

    Keywords: metamorphic rock



    1.) All About Minerals: The Building Blocks of Rocks

    Overview of where minerals are found and how rocks are “built” with minerals

    -Provides examples of different minerals (even in household items)

    -Overview of the 5 requirements to be a mineral

    Keywords: Mineralogy, minerals

    2.) How to Identify a Mineral

    -Brief description of the different ways you can identify a mineral (luster, mineral hardness, testing mineral powder, density, fracture type)

    -Overview of luster, Mohs Scale, Streak Test, Density formula, fractures

    Keywords: streak plate, Mohs Scale, density

    3.) Mineral Properties and Luster

    -Overview of how luster is the way the way light reflects off of a mineral’s surface

    -Description of each type of luster, providing examples of minerals with each type.

    Keywords: luster, metallic, submetallic, adamantine, vitreous, resinous, waxy, pearly, dull

    4.) The Mohs Scale and Fracture Types

    -Overview of the Mohs Scale and what it measures.

    -Describes how glass is often used to test the hardness of the mineral

    -Overview of the different hardness levels and the common minerals associated with them

    -Overview of what fractures and cleavage planes are.

    -Description of different types of fractures

    Keywords: Mohs Scale, fracture, cleavage, cleavage plane, splintery fracture, uneven fracture, conchoidal fracture, earthy fracture, hackly fracture



    1.) Pangaea & The Continental Drift

    -Description of Pangaea (the hypothetical supercontinent that includes all current land masses)

    -Alfred Wegener and his theory

    -Describes continental drift and defines the different parts of the earth that can slide, move apart, or move together.

    -Describes what geologists do and how they can tell that the continents drifted apart (rock formations, coal deposits, etc.)

    Keywords: Pangaea, Alfred Wegener, continental drift, continental plate, oceanic plate, ocean trenches, lithosphere, mid-ocean ridge, oceanic crust, geologist

    2.) Volcanoes, Tsunamis, And Earthquakes, Oh My!

    -Overview of geological events that can occur after the shifting of tectonic plates.

    -Description of volcanoes and where they are located (and why)

    -Description of tsunamis and where they are located

    -Description of earthquakes and where they tend to occur. Also describes what can happen after an earthquake (volcanic eruption, landslide, etc.)

    3.) Plate Tectonics: How Plates Move

    -Overview of the mechanics of how tectonic plates move

    -Describes transform boundaries, divergent boundaries, convergent boundaries in detail

    -Describes why plates move (convective flow)

    Keywords: transform boundaries, divergent boundaries, convergent boundaries, convective flow

    4.) All About Seismic Waves

    -Overview of seismic waves

    -Overview of how they are recorded (seismograph) and the different parts of a seismograph

    -Definitions of P waves, S waves, surface waves, and body waves

    -How seismic waves are produced (by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, explosions)

    Keywords: seismograph, seismic waves, P waves, S waves, surface waves, body waves



    1.) The Levels of Organization and Components of an Ecosystem

    -Overview of the definition of ecosystem, how it is made up of living and non-living things to help sustain life (biotic and abiotic)

    -Types of biotic factors – producers, decomposers, consumers

    -Abiotic factors that are important for survival (sunlight, temperature, water)

    -The levels of organization within an ecosystem (ecosystem, community, population, habitat, niche, and single organism or life form) definition of each level

    Keywords: biotic factors, abiotic factors, producers, consumers, decomposers, ecosystem, community, population, habitat, niche, organism

    2.) The Food Chain: Moving Through the Ecosystem

    -Overview of how energy (or food/nutrients) moves and flows through the ecosystem, getting passed from life form to life form.

    -Describes the primary consumer (herbivores) (rabbit, goose, squirrel etc.) eats plants/autotrophs

    -Description of how energy flows down to the secondary consumer (consumes the primary consumer)

    -Describes how the energy flows to the Tertiary Consumer (consumes the secondary consumer) (hawk, who eats the owl, who ate the rabbit)

    -Describes how energy flows to the decomposer (worms that consume the tertiary consumer / living organisms)

    Keywords: food chain, primary consumer, secondary consumer, tertiary consumer, decomposer

    3.) The Producers and Consumers of an Ecosystem

    -Overview of what producers are (plants – can make their own food by using sunlight as energy)

    -Overview of autotrophs (self-feeders/producers)

    -Examples of autotrophs (algae, all green plants, bacteria)

    -Overview of what consumers are (heterotrophs- unable to make their own food, consume energy)

    -Types of heterotrophs in detail – omnivores, carnivores, herbivores, scavengers, and predators

    Keywords: producers, consumers, autotrophs, heterotrophs

    4.) Changes In Our Ecosystems: Human Activities and Natural Events

    -Description of how different events such as natural occurrences or human activity can impact our ecosystems.

    -Provides specific examples of each natural event (hurricane, drought, tsunami, earthquake, etc.) and how it impacts our ecosystems

    -Provides specific examples of human activities (logging, hunting/poaching, irrigation, construction, pollution) and how it impacts our ecosystems

    5.) Soil and the Ecosystem

    -Overview of what is found in soil. How soil is essential to sustain life

    -Overview of the different types of layers found in soil

    -detailed description of topsoil, subsoil, parent rock, minerals, and bedrock

    Keywords: soil, humus, minerals, top soil, subsoil, parent rock, minerals, bedrock



    1.) Life in the Tundra

    -Overview and facts about the Tundra biome (climate, weather, etc.)

    -Overview of the locations around the world (northern Canada, Siberia, Alaska, coastal Antarctica, etc.)

    -Overview of the types of plants found in the Tundra

    -Description of the adaptations the plants have in the Tundra to survive the cold weather

    -Types of animals that live in the Tundra

    -Adaptations the animals have in order to survive the cold weather

    Keywords: permafrost, tundra

    2.) Tropical Rainforests Around the World

    -Overview and facts about the Tropical Rainforest biome (climate, weather, etc.)

    -Overview of the locations around the world

    -Overview of the types of plants found in the Tropical Rainforest

    -Description of the adaptations the plants have in the rainforest to survive

    -Types of animals that live in the Tropical Rainforest

    -Adaptations the animals have in order to survive

    Keywords: humid, emergent layer, canopy, understory, forest floor

    3.) Facts of the Savanna Grasslands

    -Overview and facts about the Grasslands/Savanna biome (climate, weather, etc.)

    -Overview of the locations around the world (Africa, Australia, etc.)

    -Overview of the types of plants found in the Savanna

    -Description of the adaptations the plants have in the grasslands to survive

    -Types of animals that live in the grasslands

    -Adaptations the animals have in order to survive

    Keywords: Savanna, grasslands

    4.) Surviving the Desert Biome

    -Overview and facts about the desert biome (climate, weather, etc.)

    -Overview of the locations around the world (Namib in Africa, Sahara in Africa, etc.)

    -Overview of the types of plants found in the desert

    -Description of the adaptations the plants have in the desert to survive the heat

    -Types of animals that live in the desert

    -adaptations the animals have in order to survive the heat

    Keywords: succulents, Sahara desert, water conservation

    5.) The Four Seasons of the Temperate Deciduous Forest Biome

    -Overview and facts about the Temperate Deciduous Forest biome (climate, weather, how it’s always changing seasons)

    -Overview of the locations around the world (eastern United States and Canada, Japan, etc.)

    -Overview of the types of plants found in the Temperate Deciduous Forest

    -description of the adaptations the plants have in the forest to survive

    -Types of animals that live in the Temperate Deciduous Forest

    -adaptations the animals have in order to survive

    Keywords: temperate, deciduous

    6.) Under the Sea: Saltwater Aquatic Biome

    -Overview and facts about the aquatic biome (75% of earth’s surface, temperature and other abiotic factors that play a role, ocean zones etc.)

    -Overview of the locations around the world (Atlantic, Pacific, etc.)

    -Overview of the types of plants found in the Saltwater Aquatic biome

    -Description of the adaptations the plants have in the ocean to survive

    -Types of animals that live in the ocean

    -Adaptations the animals have in order to survive

    Keywords: epipelagic, mesopelagic, bathypelagic, abiotic factors



    1.) The Process of Photosynthesis

    -Overview of how the process allows plants to make their own food.

    -Overview of step by step process (Energy from the sun is absorbed by the chlorophyll in the chloroplasts, water is absorbed by the roots, Carbon dioxide is taken from the atmosphere through the stomata (leaves), glucose is produced by the plant in a different part of the chloroplasts)

    Keywords: photosynthesis, chlorophyll, chloroplasts, carbon dioxide, stomata, glucose

    2.) The Basic Structure of a Flower

    -Overview of each part of the plant

    keywords: filament, petal, ovary, pistil, receptacle, sepal, pollen tube, stigma, stamen, fruit, style, anther, ovule

    3.) All About Chloroplasts

    -Overview of the purpose of chloroplasts (converts sunlight into food energy that plants need)

    -Where they are found in plants, how they benefit plants

    -parts of the chloroplasts

    keywords: chloroplasts, granum, stroma lamellae, outer membrane, inner membrane)

    4.) Parts of a Leaf

    -Overview of how the parts of a leaf work together to help the plant stay healthy.

    -Overview of each part of a leaf (leaf margin, midrib, leaf blade, stipule, leaf base, petiole, leaf apex)

    -Description of each part of leaf tissue (guard cell, cuticle, stoma, upper epidermis, spongy layer, vein, lower epidermis, palisade cell)

    Keywords: leaf margin, midrib, leaf blade, stipule, leaf base, petiole, leaf apex, guard cell, cuticle, stoma, upper epidermis, spongy layer, vein, lower epidermis, palisade cell

    5.) How Water Moves Through Plants

    -Overview of the three forces that help water move through plants

    -Description of how root pressure occurs as the water moves in

    -Description of how capillary action pulls the water up through the xylem

    -lastly, transpiration occurs (loss of water through the plant leaves) Water is given off into the air through the leaves’ stomata.

    Keywords: root pressure, capillary action, transpiration


    Energy Reading Passages:

    1.) Let’s Get the Ball Rolling with Kinetic and Potential Energy

    -Overview of kinetic energy (object that is in motion)

    -how it is measured (joule)

    speed, mass, and velocity determine kinetic energy

    -various examples of kinetic energy (A tennis ball thrown in the air, a basketball rolling down a hill)

    -Overview of potential energy (object that is storing energy)

    -Units of measurement (joule)

    -Height, distance, and mass are factors that impact potential energy

    -Various examples of potential energy (ball sitting at the top of a hill, someone about to shoot an arrow, etc.)

    Keywords: kinetic energy, potential energy, joule,

    2.) Heating Things Up with Thermal (Heat) Energy

    -Overview of thermal energy (generated by heat, molecules moving in an object, kinetic energy)

    -Description of how heat transfer works

    -Three types of heat transfer

    -Conduction (explanation of how it works and examples)

    -Convection (explanation of how it works and examples)

    -Radiation (explanation of how it works and examples)

    Keywords: thermal energy, heat transfer, conduction, convection, radiation

    3.) Getting Energized with Chemical Energy

    -Overview of chemical energy (energy stored in the bonds of chemicals and released during a chemical reaction)

    -Various examples of chemical energy (batteries, fuel, coal, matches, wood, etc.) each example, explanation of how energy is being released.

    Keywords: chemical energy, chemical reaction, exothermic

    4.) Types of Circuits and Electrical Energy

    -Overview of electrical energy (negatively and positively charge electrons in a circuit)

    -Description of how it can produce different types of energy, such as light, thermal, and sound energy.

    -Description of an open circuit and how it does not produce electrical energy

    -Description of closed circuit and it has a complete path for electrical currents to flow

    -Description of a parallel circuit and how it contains more than one path to flow through

    -Description of series circuit and how it has resistors arranged in a chain, so the circuit only has one path.

    Keywords: electrical energy, negatively charged electrons, positively charged electrons, circuit, open circuit, closed circuit, parallel circuit, series circuit

    5.) Creating Waves with Light and Sound Energy

    Overview of Light energy (energy our eyes can detect and made up of electro-magnetic radiation)

    -Overview of natural light (comes from the sun)

    -Description of artificial light (any light not from the sun such as halogen, florescent light, etc)

    Overview of the different ways light transfers or passes through material (absorption, refraction, reflection, and transmission)

    -More in-depth definition of absorption and examples

    -In-depth definition of refraction and examples

    -In-depth description of reflection and examples

    -In -depth description of transmission and examples

    Overview of Sound energy and how it travels in a wave

    -Description of how volume and pitch affect waves and frequency (Low pitch notes have lower frequency waves. High pitch notes have higher frequency waves. Soft notes have small waves and loud notes have big waves.)

    Keywords: light energy, sound energy, natural light, artificial light, absorption, refraction, reflection, transmission, longitudinal waves, pitch, volume, frequency



    1.) The Carbon Cycle

    -Overview of the carbon cycle and its importance. Definition of carbon and how it is an organic compound that carries out life processes.

    -How it is constantly cycled in plants, through the oceans, in animals, and the atmosphere.

    -Overview of each step of the carbon cycle

    -Decomposition breaks organic material down into inorganic material and releases carbon into the soil which can be turned into fossil fuels over time

    -The burning of fossil fuels by humans contributes vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere causing this cycle to be out of balance

    -Diffusion of CO2 into and out of the oceans

    Keywords: carbon cycle, factory emissions, animal respiration (cellular respiration), fossil fuels, photosynthesis,

    2.) The Nitrogen Cycle

    -Overview of the nitrogen cycle and its importance to organisms being able to carry out life’s processes (i.e. proteins contain nitrogen)

    -Overview of the steps of the nitrogen cycle

    -Most of the nitrogen on Earth is contained in the atmosphere in the form of N2 gas. This is not useable for organisms however and needs to be fixed into a useable form. Lightning and bacteria in the soil are able to accomplish this.

    -Other bacteria convert this into nitrates and nitrites that plants can use and incorporate into their cells/tissues.

    Keywords: Nitrogen cycle, nitric acid, nitrates, nitrites, nitrogen gas, nitrogen-fixing bacteria

    3.) The Water Cycle

    Overview of how water is necessary for all organism survival

    -Cycled amongst three states of matter – The sun’s energy affects the different stages

    -Overview of evaporation

    -Description of condensation

    -Description of precipitation

    -Overview of collection/runoff

    Keywords: water cycle, evaporation, condensation, precipitation, collection, runoff

    4.) The Oxygen Cycle

    Definition and overview of oxygen and its importance to life on earth. Cycled between and outside organisms and throughout biosphere.

    -Plants create and release oxygen through photosynthesis, putting it in the atmosphere

    -Animal breath in oxygen, utilizing oxygen in cellular respiration and breath out carbon dioxide (making C02)

    -Plants use the carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, turning it into sugar and other compounds. They also produce oxygen, completing the cycle.

    Keywords: oxygen, animal respiration, photosynthesis



    1.) Weather and Clouds Types

    -Definition of weather (state of the atmosphere at a given place or time)

    -Words you would use to describe weather (stormy, rainy, partly cloudy, etc.)

    -How weather is created (energy from the sun – clouds, wind, precipitation are all a result from uneven heating – weather formed in the troposphere layer of the atmosphere (lowest layer))

    -Overview of different types of clouds and definitions: cumulus, stratocumulus, cumulonimbus, cirrus, stratus

    Keywords: weather, clouds, tropospheric layer, cumulus, stratocumulus, cumulonimbus, cirrus, stratus

    2.) Climate and its Zones

    -Definition of climate (conditions of atmosphere for longer period)

    -Words you would use to describe climate (humid, temperature, tropical, etc.)

    -Climate zones, how they work and the differences in location and climate

    -Overview and facts about Polar Zone

    -Overview and facts about Temperate Zone

    -Overview and facts about Tropical Zone

    Keywords: climate, climate zones, humidity, polar zone, temperate zone, polar zone

    3.) Weather and Climate Instruments

    -Quick overview of how and why different types of instruments are used to measure weather and climate

    Definitions and overviews of the following instruments: barometer, thermometer, weather balloon, and rain gauge

    Keywords: barometer, thermometer, weather balloon, rain gauge

    4.) Extreme Weather

    What causes extreme weather (heat from the sun – extremely high and low pressure) and global warming

    -definition of extreme weather (extremely different from usually weather patterns.) Destructive, can be hotter, colder, wetter, windier, etc.

    Types of extreme weather

    -Flooding / Monsoons


    -Dust Storm and Tornadoes


    -Heat Wave

    -Snow Storms

    5.) Global Warming and Its Effects

    -What global warming is and what is contributing to it (human activity, relying on fossil fuels – construction, transportation, and electricity burning fossil fuels and using up energy)

    -Overview of vehicle contributions to global warming (large emissions of carbon dioxide)

    -Overview of deforestation (releasing large amounts of carbon and reduces carbon capture)

    -Overview of the greenhouse effect (gases in the air that trap energy from the sun)

    -Overview of chemical fertilizers (nitrogen oxides trap heat)

    -Overview of power plants burning fossil fuels

    Keywords: Global Warming, greenhouse effect, deforestation, fossil fuels, carbon dioxide

    6.) The Earth’s Atmosphere

    -Overview of the atmosphere, definition, made up of 5 layers, each with their own traits.

    -troposphere (first layer closest to earth, where nearly all weather occurs)

    -stratosphere (contains ozone layer and is above the troposphere)

    -mesosphere (third layer - burns up meteors and asteroids)

    -thermosphere (fourth layer – air is very thin, many satellites orbit in this layer)

    -exosphere (outermost layer – incredibly thin air, “leaks out” into outer space – no specific boundaries into outer space)

    Keywords: atmosphere, troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, exosphere



    1.) All About Volcanoes

    -Definition of volcano and overview of how most volcanoes are formed.

    -Overview of how rock in the mantle begins to melt and becomes magma, moving through the vent from the magma chamber (becomes lava when it reaches the surface of the earth)

    -Overview of the different parts of a volcano

    Keywords: volcano, magma chamber, magma, lava, vent, lava flow, rock fragments, conduit, ash cloud

    2.) Volcanic Landforms

    -Introduction to the different types of volcanoes and why they are formed differently.

    -overview and description of a composite volcano

    -overview and description of a cinder cone volcano

    -overview and description of a shield volcano

    -overview and description of a caldera

    Keywords: volcanic landforms, composite volcano, cinder cone volcano, shield volcano, caldera

    3.) Geothermal Features

    -Definition of geothermal features and how they are created (heat from the earth’s interior or magma/volcanic activity)

    -overview and description of fumaroles

    -overview and description of geysers

    -overview and description of hot springs

    -overview and description of mud pools

    Keywords: geothermal features, fumaroles, geysers, hot springs, mud pools

    4.) Hazards of Volcanic Activity

    -Description of how volcanic activity can be hazardous to us and our environment. Brief overview of different types.

    -description of pyroclastic flow

    -description of lava flow

    -description of mud flow

    -description of volcanic bombs

    -description of tsunamis

    -description of ash

    Keywords: volcanic activity, pyroclastic flow, lava flow, mud flow, volcanic bombs, tsunamis, ash


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    Total Pages
    290 pages
    Answer Key
    Teaching Duration
    1 Year
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