NRC Standards and Benchmarks: "Volcano" Module
The ETE "Volcano" module supports the following science standards and benchmarks:

NRC Science Education Standards (Science Education Standards Online)
As a result of activities, students should develop understanding and abilities aligned with the following concepts and processes.

Systems, order, and organization: Some of the fundamental concepts that underlie this standard are:

  • Systems have boundaries, components, resources flow (input and output), and feedback.
  • The idea of simple systems encompasses subsystems as well as identifying the structure and function of systems, feedback and equilibrium, and the distinction between open and closed systems.
  • An understanding of regularities in systems, and by extension, the universe; they then can develop understanding of basic laws, theories, and models that explain the world.
  • An assumption of order establishes the basis for cause-effect relationship and predictability.
  • The behavior of units of matter, objects, organisms, or events in the universe-can be described statistically.
  • Probability is the relative certainty (or uncertainty) that individuals can assign to selected events happening (or not happening) in a specified space or time.

Evidence, models, and explanation: Some of the fundamental concepts that underlie this standard are:

  • Evidence consists of observations and data on which to base scientific explanations.
  • Using evidence to understand interactions allows individuals to predict changes in natural and designed systems.
  • Models are tentative schemes or structures that correspond to real objects, events, or classes of events, and that have explanatory power.
  • Models help scientists and engineers understand how things work.
  • Models take many forms, including physical objects, plans, mental constructs, mathematical equations, and computer simulations.
  • Scientific explanations incorporate existing scientific knowledge and new evidence from observations, experiments, or models into internally consistent, logical statements.
  • Different terms, such as "hypothesis," "model," "law," "principle," "theory," and "paradigm" are used to describe various types of scientific explanations.

Constancy, change, and measurement: Some of the fundamental concepts that underlie this standard are:

  • Interactions within and among systems result in change.
  • Changes vary in rate, scale, and pattern, including trends and cycles.
  • Energy can be transferred and matter can be changed.
  • Changes in systems can be quantified.
  • Mathematics is essential for accurately measuring change.
  • Different systems of measurement are used for different purposes.
  • An important part of measurement is knowing when to use which system.
  • Scale includes understanding that different characteristics, properties, or relationships within a system might change as its dimensions are increased or decreased.

Evolution and equilibrium: Some of the fundamental concepts that underlie this standard are:

  • Evolution is a series of changes, some gradual and some sporadic, that accounts for the present form and function of objects, organisms, and natural and designed systems.
  • The general idea of evolution is that the present arises from materials and forms of the past.

Content Standard A: Science As Inquiry (pp. 173-176)
Fundamental abilities and concepts that underlie the Abilities Necessary To Do Scientific Inquiry include:

  • Identify questions and concepts that guide scientific investigations.
  • Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications.
  • Formulate and revise scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence.
  • Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and models.
  • Communicate and defend a scientific argument.

Fundamental concepts that underlie the Understandings about Scientific Inquiry include:

  • Scientists rely on technology to enhance the gathering and manipulation of data.
  • New techniques and tools provide new evidence to guide inquiry and new methods to gather data, thereby contributing to the advance of science.
  • The accuracy and precision of the data, and therefore the quality of the exploration, depends on the technology used.
  • Mathematics is essential in scientific inquiry. Mathematical tools and models guide and improve the posing of questions, gathering data, constructing explanations and communicating results.
  • Scientific explanations must adhere to criteria such as:
    • a proposed explanation must be logically consistent;
    • it must abide by the rules of evidence;
    • it must be open to questions and possible modification;
    • and it must be based on historical and current scientific knowledge.
  • Results of scientific inquiry-new knowledge and methods-emerge from different types of investigations and public communication among scientists.
  • In communicating and defending the results of scientific inquiry, arguments must be logical and demonstrate connections between natural phenomena, investigations, and the historical body of scientific knowledge.
  • The methods and procedures that scientists used to obtain evidence must be clearly reported to enhance opportunities for further investigation.

Content Standard B: Physical Science (pp. 176-181).
Interactions of Energy and Matter: Some fundamental concepts that underlie this standard are:

  • Waves, including sound and seismic waves, waves on water, and light waves, have energy and can transfer energy when they interact with matter.
  • Electromagnetic waves include radio waves (the longest wavelength), microwaves, infrared radiation (radiant heat), visible light, ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, and gamma rays.

Content Standard D: Earth and Space Science (pp. 187-190)
Energy in the Earth System: Fundamental concepts that underlie this standard are:

  • Earth systems have internal and external sources of energy, both of which create heat.
  • The sun is the major external source of energy.
  • Two primary sources of the earth's internal energy are the decay of radioactive isotopes and the gravitational energy from the earth's original formation.
  • The outward transfer of earth's internal heat drives convection circulation in the mantle that propels the plates comprising earth's surface across the face of the globe.

Geochemical Cycles: Fundamental concepts that underlie this standard are:

  • The earth is a system containing essentially a fixed amount of each stable chemical atom or element.
  • Each element can exist in several different chemical reservoirs. Each element on earth moves among reservoirs in the solid earth, oceans, atmosphere, and organisms as part of geochemical cycles.
  • Movement of matter between reservoirs is driven by the earth's internal and external sources of energy.
  • These movements are often accompanied by a change in the physical and chemical properties of the matter.

The Origin and Evolution of the Earth System: Fundamental concepts that underlie this standard are:

  • Interactions among the solid earth, the oceans, the atmosphere, and organisms have resulted in the ongoing evolution of the earth system.
  • We can observe some changes such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on a human time scale, but many processes such as mountain building and plate movements take place over hundreds of millions of years.

Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives (pp. 193-199)
Personal and Community Health: Some fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include

  • Hazards and the potential for accidents exist. Regardless of the environment, the possibility of injury, illness, disability, or death may be present.

Environmental Quality: Some of the fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include

  • Natural ecosystems provide an array of basic processes that affect humans. Those processes include maintenance of the quality of the atmosphere, generation of soils, control of the hydrologic cycle, disposal of wastes, and recycling of nutrients.

Natural and Human-Induced Hazards: Some of the fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include

  • Normal adjustments of earth may be hazardous for humans.
  • Humans live at the interface between the atmosphere driven by solar energy and the upper mantle where convection creates changes in the earth's solid crust.
  • As societies have grown, become stable, and come to value aspects of the environment, vulnerability to natural processes of change has increased. Human activities can enhance potential for hazards.
  • Acquisition of resources, urban growth, and waste disposal can accelerate rates of natural change.
  • Some hazards, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and severe weather, are rapid and spectacular.
  • There are slow and progressive changes that also result in problems for individuals and societies.
  • Natural and human-induced hazards present the need for humans to assess potential danger and risk.
  • Many changes in the environment designed by humans bring benefits to society, as well as cause risks.
  • Students should understand the costs and trade-offs of various hazards-ranging from those with minor risk to a few people to major catastrophes with major risk to many people.
  • The scale of events and the accuracy with which scientists and engineers can (and cannot) predict events are important considerations.

Science and Technology in Local, National, and Global Challenges: Some of the fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include

  • Science and technology are essential social enterprises, but alone they can only indicate what can happen, not what should happen. The latter involves human decisions about the use of knowledge.
  • Decisions involve assessment of alternatives, risks, costs, and benefits and consideration of who benefits and who suffers, who pays and gains, and what the risks are and who bears them.
  • Students should understand the appropriateness and value of basic questions-"What can happen?"- "What are the odds?"-and "How do scientists and engineers know what will happen?"

Content Standard E: Science and Technology (pp. 190-193)
Fundamental abilities and concepts that underlie the Abilities Of Technological Design Include:

  • Identify a problem or design an opportunity.
  • Propose designs - choose between alternative solutions.
  • Implement a proposed solution.
  • Evaluate the solution and its consequences.
  • Communicate the problem, process, and solution.

Understandings about science and technology Some of the fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include

  • Scientists in different disciplines ask different questions, use different methods of investigation, and accept different types of evidence to support their explanations.
  • Many scientific investigations require the contributions of individuals from different disciplines, including engineering.
  • New disciplines of science, such as geophysics and biochemistry often emerge at the interface of two older disciplines.
  • Creativity, imagination, and a good knowledge base are all required in the work of science and engineering.
  • Science and technology are pursued for different purposes. Scientific inquiry is driven by the desire to understand the natural world, and technological design is driven by the need to meet human needs and solve human problems.
  • Technology, by its nature, has a more direct effect on society than science because its purpose is to solve human problems, help humans adapt, and fulfill human aspirations.
  • Technological solutions may create new problems. Science, by its nature, answers questions that may or may not directly influence humans. Sometimes scientific advances challenge people's beliefs and practical explanations concerning various aspects of the world.

Content Standard G: History and Nature of Science (pp. 200 - 201)
Historical Perspectives: Some of the fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include.

  • Much can be learned about the internal workings of science and the nature of science from study of individual scientists, their daily work, and their efforts to advance scientific knowledge in their area of study
  • The historical perspective of scientific explanations demonstrates how scientific knowledge changes by evolving over time, almost always building on earlier knowledge.

Science As a Human Endeavor: Some of the fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include

  • Individuals and teams have contributed and will continue to contribute to the scientific enterprise.
  • Doing science or engineering can be as simple as an individual conducting field studies or as complex as hundreds of people working on a major scientific question or technological problem.
  • Pursuing science as a career or as a hobby can be both fascinating and intellectually rewarding.
  • Scientists have ethical traditions. Scientists value peer review, truthful reporting about the methods and outcomes of investigations, and making public the results of work. Violations of such norms do occur, but scientists responsible for such violations are censured by their peers.
  • Scientists are influenced by societal, cultural, and personal beliefs and ways of viewing the world. Science is not separate from society but rather science is a part of society.

Nature of Scientific Knowledge: Some of the fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include

  • Science distinguishes itself from other ways of knowing and from other bodies of knowledge through the use of empirical standards, logical arguments, and skepticism, as scientists strive for the best possible explanations about the natural world.
  • Scientific explanations should also be logical, respect the rules of evidence, be open to criticism, report methods and procedures, and make knowledge public.
  • Explanations on how the natural world changes based on myths, personal beliefs, religious values, mystical inspiration, superstition, or authority may be personally useful and socially relevant, but they are not scientific.
  • Because all scientific ideas depend on experimental and observational confirmation, all scientific knowledge is, in principle, subject to change as new evidence becomes available.
  • The core ideas of science such as the conservation of energy or the laws of motion have been subjected to a wide variety of confirmations and are therefore unlikely to change in the areas in which they have been tested.
  • In areas where data or understanding are incomplete, such as the details of human evolution or questions surrounding global warming, new data may well ead to changes in current ideas or resolve current conflicts.
  • In situations where information is still fragmentary, it is normal for scientific ideas to be incomplete, but this is also where the opportunity for making advances may be greatest.

Project 2061 Benchmarks (Benchmarks On-Line)
By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that:
Content Standards: Chapter 11 Common Themes
11A Systems

  • Understanding how things work and designing solutions to problems of almost any kind can be facilitated by systems analysis.
  • In defining a system, it is important to specify its boundaries and subsystems, indicate its relation to other systems, and identify what its input and its output are expected to be.

11B Models

  • The basic idea of mathematical modeling is to find a mathematical relationship that behaves in the same ways as the objects or processes under investigation.
  • The usefulness of a model can be tested by comparing its predictions to actual observations in the real world.

11C Constancy and Change

  • Things can change in detail but remain the same in general (the players change, but the team remains; cells are replaced, but the organism remains). Sometimes counterbalancing changes are necessary for a thing to retain its essential constancy in the presence of changing conditions.
  • Graphs and equations are useful (and often equivalent) ways for depicting and analyzing patterns of change.
  • In many physical, biological, and social systems, changes in one direction tend to produce opposing (but somewhat delayed) influences, leading to repetitive cycles of behavior.

11D Scale

  • Representing large numbers in terms of powers of ten makes it easier to think about them and to compare things that are greatly different.
  • Because different properties are not affected to the same degree by changes in scale, large changes in scale typically change the way that things work in physical, biological, or social systems.

Content Standards: Chapter 1 The Nature of Science
1A The Scientific World View

  • Scientists assume that the universe is a vast single system in which the basic rules are the same everywhere.
  • Change and continuity are persistent features of science.
  • In science, the testing, revising, and occasional discarding of theories, new and old never ends.
  • Science is an ongoing process leads to an increasingly better understanding of how things work in the world but not to absolute truth.

1B Scientific Inquiry

  • Investigations are conducted for different reasons, including to explore new phenomena, to check on previous results, to test how well a theory predicts, and to compare different theories.
  • Hypotheses are widely used in science for choosing what data to pay attention to and what additional data to seek, and for guiding the interpretation of the data (both new and previously available).
  • Sometimes, scientists can control conditions in order to obtain evidence. When that is not possible for practical or ethical reasons, they try to observe as wide a range of natural occurrences as possible to be able to discern patterns.
  • There are different traditions in science about what is investigated and how, but they all have in common certain basic beliefs about the value of evidence, logic, and good arguments. And there is agreement that progress in all fields of science depends on intelligence, hard work, imagination, and even chance.
  • Scientists in any one research group tend to see things alike, so even groups of scientists may have trouble being entirely objective about their methods and findings. For that reason, scientific teams are expected to seek out the possible sources of bias in the design of their investigations and in their data analysis. Checking each other's results and explanations helps, but that is no guarantee against bias.
  • In the short run, new ideas that do not mesh well with mainstream ideas in science often encounter vigorous criticism. In the long run, theories are judged by how they fit with other theories, the range of observations they explain, how well they explain observations, and how effective they are in predicting new findings.
  • New ideas in science are limited by the context in which they are conceived; are often rejected by the scientific establishment; sometimes spring from unexpected findings; and usually grow slowly, through contributions from many investigators.

1C The Scientific Enterprise

  • Science disciplines differ from one another in what is studied, techniques used, and outcomes sought, but they share a common purpose and philosophy, and all are part of the same scientific enterprise.
  • Many problems are studied by scientists using information and skills from many disciplines.
  • Disciplines do not have fixed boundaries, and it happens that new scientific disciplines are being formed where existing ones meet and that some subdisciplines spin off to become new disciplines in their own right.
  • Scientists can bring information, insights, and analytical skills to bear on matters of public concern.
  • Scientists as a group can be expected to be no less biased than other groups are about their perceived interests.
  • The strongly held traditions of science, including its commitment to peer review and publication, serve to keep the vast majority of scientists well within the bounds of ethical professional behavior. Deliberate deceit is rare and likely to be exposed sooner or later by the scientific enterprise itself.
  • Funding influences the direction of science by virtue of the decisions that are made on which research to support.

Content Standards: Chapter 4 The Physical Setting
4C Processes that Shape the Earth

  • The slow movement of material within the earth results from heat flowing out from the deep interior and the action of gravitational forces on regions of different density.
  • The solid crust of the earth-including both the continents and the ocean basins-consists of separate plates that ride on a denser, hot, gradually deformable layer of the earth:
  • The crust sections move very slowly, pressing against one another in some places, pulling apart in other places.
  • Ocean-floor plates may slide under continental plates, sinking deep into the earth.
  • The surface layers of these plates may fold, forming mountain ranges.
  • Earthquakes often occur along the boundaries between colliding plates, and molten rock from below creates pressure that is released by volcanic eruptions, helping to build up mountains.
  • Under the ocean basins, molten rock may well up between separating plates to create new ocean floor.
  • Volcanic activity along the ocean floor may form undersea mountains, which can thrust above the ocean's surface to become islands.

4B The Earth

  • The action of gravitational force on regions of different densities causes them to rise or fall-and such circulation, influenced by the rotation of the earth, produces winds and ocean currents.

Content Standards: Chapter 7 Human Society
7C Social Change

  • The size and rate of growth of the human population in any location is affected by economic, political, religious, technological, and environmental factors. Some of these factors, in turn, are influenced by the size and rate of growth of the population.
  • The decisions of one generation both provide and limit the range of possibilities open to the next generation.

7D Social Trade-offs

  • Benefits and costs of proposed choices include consequences that are long-term as well as short-term, and indirect as well as direct.
  • The more remote the consequences of a personal or social decision, the harder it usually is to take them into account in considering alternatives.
  • Benefits and costs may be difficult to estimate.
  • In deciding among alternatives, a major question is who will receive the benefits and who (not necessarily the same people) will bear the costs.
  • Social trade-offs are often generational:
    The cost of benefits received by one generation may fall on subsequent generations.
    The cost of a social trade-off is sometimes borne by one generation although the benefits are enjoyed by their descendants.

Content Standards: Chapter 1 Historical Perspectives
1-E Moving the Continents

  • The idea of continental drift was suggested by the matching shapes of the Atlantic coasts of Africa and South America, but rejected for lack of other evidence. It just seemed absurd that anything as massive as a continent could move around.
  • Early in the 20th century, Alfred Wegener, a German scientist, reintroduced the idea of moving continents, adding such evidence as the underwater shapes of the continents, the similarity of life forms and land forms in corresponding parts of Africa and South America, and the increasing separation of Greenland and Europe. Still, very few contemporary scientists adopted his theory.
  • The theory of plate tectonics was finally accepted by the scientific community in the 1960s, when further evidence had accumulated in support of it. The theory was seen to provide an explanation for a diverse array of seemingly unrelated phenomena, and there was a scientifically sound physical explanation of how such movement could occur.

Content Standards: Chapter 12 Habits of Mind
12A Values and Attitudes

  • Know why curiosity, honesty, openness, and skepticism are so highly regarded in science and how they are incorporated into the way science is carried out; exhibit those traits in their own lives and value them in others.
  • View science and technology thoughtfully, being neither categorically antagonistic nor uncritically positive.

12B Computation and Estimation

  • Use ratios and proportions, including constant rates, in appropriate problems.
  • Find answers to problems by substituting numerical values in simple algebraic formulas and judge whether the answer is reasonable by reviewing the process and checking against typical values.
  • Make up and write out simple algorithms for solving problems that take several steps.
  • Use computer spreadsheet, graphing, and database programs to assist in quantitative analysis.
  • Compare data for two groups by representing their averages and spreads graphically.
  • Express and compare very small and very large numbers using powers-of-ten notation.
  • Trace the source of any large disparity between an estimate and the calculated answer.
  • Consider the possible effects of measurement errors on calculations.

12C Manipulation and Observation

  • Learn quickly the proper use of new instruments by following instructions in manuals or by taking instructions from an experienced user.
  • Use computers for producing tables and graphs and for making spreadsheet calculations.

12D Communication Skills

  • Make and interpret scale drawings.
  • Write clear, step-by-step instructions for conducting investigations, operating something, or following a procedure.
  • Choose appropriate summary statistics to describe group differences, always indicating the spread of the data as well as the data's central tendencies.
  • Describe spatial relationships in geometric terms such as perpendicular, parallel, tangent, similar, congruent, and symmetrical.
  • Use and correctly interpret relational terms such as if . . . then . . . , and, or, sufficient, necessary, some, every, not, correlates with, and causes.
  • Participate in group discussions on scientific topics by restating or summarizing accurately what others have said, asking for clarification or elaboration, and expressing alternative positions.
  • Use tables, charts, and graphs in making arguments and claims in oral and written presentations.

12E Critical-Response Skills

  • Notice and criticize arguments based on the faulty, incomplete, or misleading use of numbers, such as in instances when:
    • average results are reported, but not the amount of variation around the average
    • a percentage or fraction is given, but not the total sample size (as in "9 out of 1- dentists recommend ...")
    • absolute and proportional quantities are mixed (as in "3,400 more robberies in our city last year, whereas other cities had an increase of less than 1%")
    • results are reported with overstated precision (as in representing 13 out of 19 students as 68.42%)
    • Check graphs to see that they do not misrepresent results by using inappropriate scales or by failing to specify the axes clearly.
    • Wonder how likely it is that some event of interest might have occurred just by chance.
    • Insist that the critical assumptions behind any line of reasoning be made explicit so that the validity of the position being taken-whether one's own or that of others-can be judged.
    • Be aware, when considering claims, that when people try to prove a point, they may select only the data that support it and ignore any that would contradict it.
    • Suggest alternative ways of explaining data and criticize arguments in which data, explanations, or conclusions are represented as the only ones worth consideration, with no mention of other possibilities. Similarly, suggest alternative trade-offs in decisions and designs and criticize those in which major trade-offs are not acknowledged.
HTML code by Chris Kreger
Maintained by ETE Team
Last updated April 21, 2011

NASATalk logo



Discuss Exploring the Environment!

Some images 2004

Privacy Statement and Copyright 1997-2011 by Wheeling Jesuit University/NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future. All rights reserved.

Center for Educational Technologies, Circuit Board/Apple graphic logo, and COTF Classroom of the Future logo are registered trademarks of Wheeling Jesuit University.