Graphing Seismic Waves: Evidence For Earth's Layers

Grade Levels
9th - 12th
Formats Included
  • Zip
10 pages
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  1. This activity pack is designed to address the Next Generation Science Standard HS-ESS2-3: Develop a model based on evidence of Earth’s interior to describe the cycling of matter by thermal convection. The four activities included in this bundle provide students with experiences to develop an underst
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How do we know the Earth has layers? Discover the Earth has layers by analyzing seismic data and develop an understanding of the evidence that supports our knowledge of Earth’s interior in this graphing activity. 

This activity was designed as part of the EXPLORE stage in the 5E model. To get the best use of it, students may need to engage in EXPLAIN activities to solidify their understanding of content and concepts. Flowing from EXPLORE activities to various EXPLAIN activities will better assist students in building their own understanding.

Learning Targets:

  • Students will be able to explain how seismic data suggests the Earth has unique layers.

This lesson includes:

  • 3 student pages
  • 6 class pages (instructions, data sets, scaffolds)
  • teacher lesson guide (3 pages)
  • answer keys

How can this lesson be used?

  • to discover the evidence that supports our understanding of Earth’s layers
  • to practice analyzing and interpreting data

How much class time will this take?

  • This lesson is designed to take no more than one 60-minute class period. However, students may need support in graphing if they have not developed these skills. 

Is this NGSS-aligned?

This resource is part of a storyline designed to work toward the tagged Next Generation Science Standards. Because Performance Expectations are designed to assess learning by the end of the grade band, unit material may not fully assess every Performance Expectation tagged in the post.

This activity works toward student mastery of the Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science and Engineering Practices, and/or Crosscutting Concepts in the tagged Performance Expectations.

This activity engages students in the following Science and Engineering Practices:

  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data

This activity encourages students to think about the following Crosscutting Concepts:

  • Patterns

Can I see an example of how you structure your lessons and student materials?

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What if I have questions?

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This activity bundle is part of a complete unit storyline that works towards these standards:

  • HS-ESS2-3: Develop a model based on evidence of Earth’s interior to describe the cycling of matter by thermal convection.

What Other Teachers Are Saying:

⭐️“This was excellent!  We gained so much from analyzing the graph and the discussion that developed from the data!  Outstanding!”

Terms Of Use:

Copyright © 2018 iExploreScience LLC. All pages of this product are copyrighted, and all rights are reserved by the author. You may not create anything to sell or share based on this packet. The product is created for the use of ONE teacher. Please do not share with colleagues. If they like the product, please send them to my TpT store. I appreciate your support with this request! You are permitted to share ONLY the cover image of this product on your blog or via social media as long as you link back to my product on TpT. Failure to comply is a copyright infringement and a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Clipart and elements found in this PDF are copyrighted and cannot be extracted and used outside of this file without permission or license. Intended for classroom and personal use ONLY.

*Note: NGSS is a registered trademark of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of this product, and do not endorse it.

Total Pages
10 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
45 minutes
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Develop a model based on evidence of Earth’s interior to describe the cycling of matter by thermal convection. Emphasis is on both a one-dimensional model of Earth, with radial layers determined by density, and a three-dimensional model, which is controlled by mantle convection and the resulting plate tectonics. Examples of evidence include maps of Earth’s three-dimensional structure obtained from seismic waves, records of the rate of change of Earth’s magnetic field (as constraints on convection in the outer core), and identification of the composition of Earth’s layers from high-pressure laboratory experiments.


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