The Science of Sustainability

The Grade Six Science Education Collection has been created to help educators find the best QUEST resources for the classroom.  For each of the grade-level California Science Content Standards (listed below), you will find three sections: a list of all of the resources that are referenced for that standard, information about what students should already know about the content standard and what possible misconceptions they might hold, and a suggested sequence for using the various resources.  Each resource has a reference to the applicable substandard(s).

Standard 1: Plate Tectonics and Earth’s Structure

QUEST Resources

Note: An asterisk (*) next to the resource signifies that there is an associated QUEST Educator Guide.
The Hayward Fault* (video)
Geothermal Heats Up* (video)
Web Extra: Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve (video)
Scary Tsunamis* (video)

Additional Resources
Origins – Scientific Journeys from McMurdo to the Pole, Exploratorium (Web interactive)
Plate Tectonics: The Scientist Behind the Theory, PBS LearningMedia (video)

Background

  • Students should already be familiar with earthquakes and the effects of the the energy released as earthquakes occur.
  • Teachers should be very sensitive to misconceptions around the scaling of earthquakes and the prediction of earthquakes.  Allow students to share their personal experiences with earthquakes and their effects.

 

Sequence of Use

The Hayward Fault is a great video to start with since it contains details about the mechanics of earthquakes and provides compelling, local images about the results of earthquakes (1c,d,e,f,g).  The Web Extra: Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve identifies a local area that has been volcanically active in recent geologic times (1e,f).  After establishing that California has volcanic activity, teachers may want to show a map with California volcanoes highlighted.  Next, by watching Geothermal Heats Up, students can learn about some of the results of living in a seismically active region of the world, namely our proximity to geothermal vents.  This video also illustrates the layers of the Earth (1b).

Scary Tsunamis helps to connect these content standards with the standards for Shaping Earth’s Surface by illustrating the connection between earthquakes and tsunamis and the movements of the earth’s plates (1e).  Students should recognize the power of tsunamis on the beaches and islands that they hit – even from tremendous distances from the source of geologic event.

Additional resources for this section include Origins – Scientific Journeys from McMurdo to the Pole, from the Exploratorium, created for this institution's journey to the South Pole (1a).  Additionally, Plate Tectonics: The Scientist Behind the Theory, found on PBS LearningMedia, explains how Wegener came up with his ideas about continental drift (1a).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.

Standard 2: Shaping Earth’s Surface

QUEST Resources

Note: An asterisk (*) next to the resource signifies that there is an associated QUEST Educator Guide.
Landslide Detectives* (video)
Scary Tsunamis* (video)
San Francisco Bay Slowly Recovering From Gold Rush Miners' Devastating Legacy (blog)

Additional Resources
Coastal Geologic Processes, PBS LearningMedia (interactive)
Rock Cycle Animation, PBS LearningMedia (animation)

Background

  • Students should already be familiar with the movement of water in rivers and beaches.  Students may be able to differentiate river rocks from rocks that have not spent time in water.
  • Teachers should be sensitive that not all students may have had personal experience with rivers and beaches.  Investigating water through images and video resources may be important, depending on your population.  Students may also believe that water sits upon the Earth, but doesn't change the Earth in any way.
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Sequence of Use

If you haven’t yet watched Scary Tsunamis, this is the time to do so.  This video ties the movement of the Earth’s plates and earthquakes to tsunamis (2d).  The tremendous impact of tsunamis on land is well documented and has ties to the California coast. Next, teachers may want students to view Landslide Detectives.  This video helps illustrate the destructive nature of water on land through landslides (2a,d). In the blog post San Francisco Bay Slowly Recovering From Gold Rush Miners' Devastating Legacy, author Brian Romans illustrates how water was used in mining gold in the Bay Area and how this process has changed the the local geology on land and in the bay.

Additional resources that may be helpful for these standards include Coastal Geologic Processes and the Rock Cycle Animation from PBS LearningMedia.  In these resources, students will see animations of the rock cycle and have access to interactives that explain how our coasts change over time (2b,c).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.

Standard 3: Heat (Thermal Energy) (Physical Sciences)

QUEST Resources

Note: An asterisk (*) next to the resource signifies that there is an associated QUEST Educator Guide.
Urban Heat Islands* (audio)
Geothermal Heats Up* (video)

Additional Resources
Heat Transfer, PBS LearningMedia (interactive)

Background

  • Students should already be familiar with how objects heat up when they are left in the sun.  They may know how different colors absorb sunlight differently (and heat up more or less quickly than others).  Students have likely experienced entering a car that has been left out in the sun with no windows open. They should also be familiar with ovens and stoves and how to heat up foods.
  • Teachers should be sensitive to the fact that conduction, convection and radiation are often misunderstood and confused.  Also, for many people, understanding the difference between heat and temperature is very challenging (heat – the total energy of molecular motion of a substance; temperature – a measurement of the average energy of the molecules/atoms of a substance are moving).
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Sequence of Use

If students have not already watched Geothermal Heats Up, this is the time to do so (3a,c).  This video connects different groups of standards by explaining how the molten rock of Earth’s liquid mantle can be used to create energy on Earth’s surface.  Besides the heat from below the Earth’s surface, the Earth is heated through sunlight.  Urban Heat Islands explores the challenges and opportunities presented by the dark surfaces of most cities and buildings (3a,c,d).

The PBS LearningMedia resource, Heat Transfer, illustrates specific examples about heat flow that may be useful to students as they build their conceptions of heat and heat transfer (3c,d).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.

Standard 4: Energy in the Earth System

QUEST Resources

Note: An asterisk (*) next to the resource signifies that there is an associated QUEST Educator Guide.
Geothermal Heats Up* (video)
Urban Heat Islands* (audio)
Climate Watch:Unlocking the Grid* (video)
Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol* (video)
Algae Power (video)
Science on the SPOT: Science of Fog* (video)

Additional Resources
The Role of Ocean Currents in Climate, PBS LearningMedia (video)

Background

  • Students should already know that the sun is the source of nearly all of the surface energy on the Earth.  Additionally, students may have already experienced the results of convection currents on Earth while enjoying an on-shore breeze at the beach or watching the movements of particulates in their soup.
  • Teachers should be sensitive to students' knowledge and confusion around convection and other forms of heat flow.
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Sequence of Use

In this set of standards, teachers should ensure that students have a sense as to how the sun affects earth systems.  Revisiting or listening to Urban Heat Islands will help ground students in the idea that the sun’s light energy is converted to heat and other energies as it is absorbed by surfaces on the Earth (4a). Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol and Algae Power will help illustrate how sunlight can be used by plants and how humans can use these plants to create other types of fuels for energy (4a,b).  Science on the SPOT: Science of Fog is a short video that helps reveal some of the interplay between heat, air movement and humidity, and the resulting weather (4e).  Revisiting or watching Geothermal Heats Up will help illustrate how the energy from the Earth’s interior can reach the surface to be harnessed for producing energy for human consumption (4c).

The PBS LearningMedia resource, The Role of Ocean Currents in Climate , is a video that illustrates how convection currents in oceans help to move heat from one area to another (4d).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.

Standard 5: Ecology (Life Sciences)

QUEST Resources

Note: An asterisk (*) next to the resource signifies that there is an associated QUEST Educator Guide.
California's Lost Salmon* (video)
Algae Power (video)
Ants – The Invisible Majority* (video)
The Great Migration* (video)
San Francisco Bay Invaders* (video)
Mercury in San Francisco Bay* (video)
Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol* (video)
The Farallon Islands – “California’s Galapagos” * (video)

Background

  • Students should already be familiar with the idea of a food chain and food web.  Students should also already be aware of how humans get their food through farming.
  • Teachers should be aware that students often only focus on the living parts of ecosystems.  Teachers should emphasize how non-living/abiotic factors influence ecosystems.
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Sequence of Use

There are a variety of excellent QUEST resources that focus on ecology.  To connect the standards of Ecology to those in Energy in the Earth System, teachers may want students to watch Algae Power or Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol (5a).  These videos illustrate that energy from the sun is captured through photosynthesis and that this energy is the basis for nearly all of the food webs on the surface of the Earth.  The Farallon Islands – “California’s Galapagos” illustrates different food webs and how different species are indicators of ecological health.  Next, teachers may want students to watch some of the QUEST videos that connect the living and non-living factors of ecosystems:  California's Lost Salmon, Ants – The Invisible Majority, San Francisco Bay Invaders, and finally Mercury in San Francisco Bay (5b,c,d,e).  To emphasize the connection between resources and the populations of animals, teachers may want to show The Great Migration (5e).  This video helps elucidate the seeming paradox of why birds fly such vast distances in order to meet their caloric needs.

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.

Standard 6: Resources

QUEST Resources

Note: An asterisk (*) next to the resource signifies that there is an associated QUEST Educator Guide.
State of Thirst: California's Water Future* (video)
Geothermal Heats Up* (video)
From Waste to Watts: Biofuel Bonanza* (video)
Mercury in San Francisco Bay* (video)
Climate Watch:Unlocking the Grid* (video)
Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol* (video)

Additional Resources
Energy Sources, PBS LearningMedia (video)

Background

  • Students should already be able to list some of the natural resources found in different parts of the world, especially in California.  Ask students to brainstorm some of California's natural resources (good soil, water, gold, wildlife, redwoods, oil, etc.).
  • Teachers should be aware that students may have challenges in understanding the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources.  Also, without a really robust understanding of energy, student may develop misconceptions around how energy is converted into different useful forms.
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Sequence of Use

California has a variety of natural resources and is also at the vanguard of finding new ways to exploit these resources.  By watching the video Geothermal Heats Up and/or Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol, teachers can provide students with some examples of natural resources that may not be extremely obvious (6a,b).  Continuing with this theme, From Waste to Watts: Biofuel Bonanza, illustrates another atypical resource for CA energy (6a,b).  Climate Watch: Unlocking the Grid and Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol both show a variety of alternative energy sources and describe the challenges in connecting these sources of energy with the existing pipelines for natural gas, oil or coal (6a,b).  Mercury in San Francisco Bay, State of Thirst: California's Water Future and Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol discuss some of the locally found natural resources and the challenges that emerge if these resources are or are not renewable (6c).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.