Earth Science Lessons - Tungsten, Rocks, Minerals and More!

Earth science includes multiple branches that focus on earth, its organisms, systems, and atmosphere. It often includes the study of rocks and minerals, earthquakes, volcanoes, oceans, meteorology, geology, and the study of biology. Earth science is sometimes referred to as geosciences and is an important scientific branch to study as it deals with all disciplines regarding the way Earth works. Earth science often encompasses tools and methods used in other scientific branches and may overlap with other disciplines such as chemistry, biology, and physics. A thorough understanding of earth science is important for knowing the best way to take care of the planet as well as Earth's living organisms. Check out the question and answer selection as well as the topic section below for more information regarding earth science.

Q: Why is nitrogen the most common element in the earth's atmosphere?

A: Nitrogen is the most common element in the earth's atmosphere because it is naturally found in abundance and does not react with other materials found in the earth. This indicates that nitrogen will not frequently convert into another form. Nitrogen does not easily evaporate, nor does solar radiation change it. Therefore, it is found in great amounts in the atmosphere. For more information, please visit this resource at Ask-an-Earth Scientist.

Q: What are the different types of volcanoes?

A: Volcanoes are classified into different types based upon their shapes, the way each volcano erupts and the types of rocks and minerals that the volcano is made of. The different types of volcanoes are composite, shield, cinder, spatter, and complex. Sometimes complex volcanoes are referred to as compound. Please visit the USGS site to learn more about the principal types of volcanoes.

Q: What is environmental sustainability?

A: Environmental sustainability is the process of using resources from planet earth and the environment that can be renewed at a steady rate so future generations will be able to access them in the same amount. Environmental sustainability is an important aspect of conservation. Please visit Geneseo for a more expansive definition of environmental sustainability.

Q: Why is the air colder at a greater altitude?

A: Air is colder at greater altitudes because the air pressure is lower. Temperature is determined by how fast molecules and atoms move within matter. Low air pressure means that the molecules inside air move slowly, therefore the temperature is colder at greater altitudes. Please review the following PDF file from the San Diego Supercomputer Center for further information.

Q: What causes earthquakes?

A: Faults are cracks in the earth's crust, and these areas build great pressure. Earthquakes are caused when the plates, which are divided by the faults, press or grind against each other. Please see more information regarding earthquakes at Teara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

Q: What is global warming?

A: Global Warming is the process by which the earth's atmosphere continues to increase in temperature due to a buildup of greenhouse gasses. Human activity has greatly contributed to the increase of greenhouse gasses. Please visit the Stanford Solar Center for more information regarding global warming.

Q: What are Plate tectonics?

A: Plate tectonics is the study of motion in earth's rocky, outer layer or lithosphere. Scientists believe that at one point, all of earth's continents were connected, but then they drifted apart. Plate tectonics is a theory that stems from the concept of this continental drift. For more information regarding plate tectonics, please visit the University of Berkeley with their in-depth look at the subject.

Q: What is acid rain, and what are the effects on plants?

A: Acid rain is precipitation that is more acidic than is considered normal. This is characterized as having a low pH, and is often attributed the water mixing with carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and various nitrogen oxides. Acid rain occurs as the water molecules found in precipitation bonds with these elements and creates acidic water. Acid rain has a harmful effect on plants and can slow down growth, reduce the amount of life-giving nutrients a plant receives, and cause injury to the plant. Please visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for more information regarding acid rain.

Q: What is photosynthesis?

A: Photosynthesis is the process by which organisms absorb sunlight and use it to convert carbon dioxide into sugar and other compounds necessary for living. Plants, certain bacteria, and some microorganisms use photosynthesis. Learn more about photosynthesis at Estrella Mountain Community College's guide to photosynthesis.

Q: Where can I learn more about ozone depletion and the hole in the ozone layer?

A: You may find more information about the ozone hole and ozone depletion at the Global Change Master Directory division of NASA's Flight Center.

Earth Science Lesson Plans & Activities

Earth science lesson plans and activities are excellent ways for educators and middle school students to develop further understanding of many of the science's disciplines. You may find many resources freely available online.

Rocks & Minerals

The following links are for educational sites that provide many resources for educators and students regarding rocks and minerals.

  • GeoKansas: Learn about the types of rocks and minerals, particularly those found in the Midwest.
  • ISM Geology Lesson Plans: Illinois State Museum Geology Online offers lesson plans on rocks and minerals assorted by grade level.
  • Earth Floor: Cycles: This module illustrates the rock cycle.
  • Smithsonian Education: Lesson plan for minerals, crystals, and gems as well as a free, online lesson plan search engine.
  • Rock Cycle Animations: Numerous rock cycle animations and activities from the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College.
  • Rocks and Minerals: The Utah Geological Survey provides numerous resources and activities that extend beyond Utah.

Earthquakes & Volcanoes

Educators and students can learn more about earthquakes and volcanoes with these educational resources that include activities, games, online guides, and lesson plans.

The Ocean

Those studying the ocean will find more information and activities with these multiple resources that include virtual field trips, online books, and interactive projects.


Learn more about weather with these resources designed for educators and students. They include online activities, lesson plans, teaching guides, and educational projects.

  • Franklin's Forecast: Resources for Science Learning by the Franklin Institute provides activities for kids including how to make a weather station.
  • Weather and Climate Basics: The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research explains the difference between weather and climate
  • Wonderful World of Weather Lesson Plans: The Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering (CJESE) collaborated with K-12 schools and universities to provide lesson plans and educator resources.
  • Dan's Wild Weather: A meteorologist created this site with activities and lesson plans for teaching weather.
  • CLN Theme Page for Weather: The Community Learning Network has gathered these resources together for educators and students.
  • Weather: The website 42 Explore provides an in-depth guide to weather with lesson plans, tutorials and texts, and interactive activities.


Those studying astronomy may further their understanding with these resources that include online lessons, interactive tutorials, and units.

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