An Earth Sciences unit

This unit is most suitable for students who have already learnt about the particle theory of solids, liquids and gases and about the Earth’s rotation and the orbit of the Moon.
Recommend ages: 11-14.


In May 2014 scientists warned South Americans to prepare for severe storms later in the year thanks to an impending El Niño. Water, perhaps our most precious resource, is always on the move.

In the lesson on the water cycle you will investigate:

  • What is the water cycle?
  • How much of the Earth’s water is drinkable?
  • What is El Niño?
  • How can you purify sea water?

If you’ve ever spent a day at the beach you’ll know how rocks you were exploring in the morning can be completely submerged a few hours later. But tides don’t just transform beaches – they’re also a source of energy. And the bigger the tide, the greater the power.

In the lesson on tides you will investigate the following:

  • What causes tides?
  • Why are there usually two high and low tides per day?
  • How do tides relate to the phases of the Moon?
  • How can you create a simple paper model of the tides?

Kick a stone…those are minerals. Texting on your phone…minerals too, or metals extracted from minerals. Minerals are central to our lives, so why did it take decades to find a sample of the most common one on the planet?

In the lesson on minerals you’ll get the answer to that question, as well as getting familiar with some common minerals. You will investigate:

  • What is a mineral?
  • What properties do geologists use to identify minerals in the field?
  • What minerals make up granite?
  • Why are some mineral crystals bigger than others?

In the Science and Society section you will meet geologist Stephanie Sykora who is on the hunt for precious metals. You will also get to think about how prepared you and your family are for a natural disaster.