Is it possible to dig a hole through the Earth?

Hello, Scientist!

Have you ever dug a hole in the ground- perhaps at a park, or in your backyard, or at Charlotte Beach? What did you see? What changes did you notice as you dug deeper and deeper into the ground? Did you begin to wonder how far you could dig? When I was a young scientists I remember digging a hole in the sand at the beach. My brothers and I dug for hours! I remember our grandmother asking us if we were trying to dig a hole all the way to China! We looked at each other surprised, was that possible?! The next day we returned to the beach to keep digging, but when we returned to the same spot the hole we had worked so hard on had disappeared! Where did it go?

Is it possible to dig a hole through the Earth? 

If I could dig a hole through the Earth where would I end up?

What do you think? What do we already know about the interior of the Earth based on what we have learned? What have you learned  from your own previous experiences that could help us answer this question? What more evidence do we need in order to support our claim?

If we could dig a hole, beginning in Rochester, NY, through the center of the Earth, where would we end up? Is this the same place our ancestors would end up if they attempted the same mission 200 million years ago?

Let’s use this video, modeling the movement of continents over time to find out! First, see if you can locate Rochester on the globe. How does Rochester’s location on the globe change over time in relation to other continents?

Over the next few weeks we will investigate each of the layers that make up Earth’s interior and the properties of each. These layers are called: the crust, the mantle, the outer core, and the inner core. Together, we will study the theory of Continental Drift in order to gain a better understanding of how Rochester’s location on the globe has changed over time!

I look forward to our work as geologists together!

Miss Todd

Could I dig a Hole Through the Earth? This initial question sets the stage for an ongoing list of additional, driving questions. While some young scientists might already know the answer to the first, that is okay! The more important questions are those that follow.

How do we articulate the purpose in our lesson in a way that motivates student learning? In this letter we have introduced a new topic through story. Storytelling opens the door for cross-curricular approaches in teaching and learning. Check out Miss Barton’s posts on Storytelling in Science. Our next step is to invite student questions, in the letter above we have introduced possible questions to get our minds thinking together about a topic. As educators we must always remember to elicit our students questions (Ambitious Science Teaching)! In allowing our students questions to guide instruction when possible we are then better able to provide meaningful learning experiences, connecting the topics/concepts outlined in the standards to our students everyday lives! But how do we incorporate 25 different voices into one lesson? Our first step is to see what these ideas are! Ambitious Science Teaching provides a framework to do so here:  Eliciting students ideas.

These questions and ideas may be collected in student journals and shared in small groups or shared on a poster that remains displayed in the classroom for the remainder of the unit. The key to success lies in how we introduce each topic (Introduce a phenomenon, Ask questions, Show a short video clip). As educators we must design our units and lessons in a way that builds curiosity, elicits students ideas early, highlights growth throughout.

A question for educators: How do you make your students thinking visible in the classroom? Please join the conversation and share your ideas in the comment section below!

NYSSLS, Disciplinary Core Ideas:

  • “Evidence from deep probes and seismic waves, reconstructions
    of historical changes in Earth’s surface and its magnetic field,
    and an understanding of physical and chemical processes lead to
    a model of Earth with a hot but solid inner core, a liquid outer
    core, a solid mantle and crust. Motions of the mantle and its
    plates occur primarily through thermal convection, which
    involves the cycling of matter due to the outward flow of energy
    from Earth’s interior and gravitational movement of denser
    materials toward the interior. (HS-ESS2-3)”

NYS Core Curriculum Standards:

  • Key Idea 2: Many of the phenomena that we observe on Earth involve interactions among components of air, ware, and land. 
  • Major Understandings:
    • 2.2a The interior of Earth is hot. Heat flow and movement of material within Earth
      cause sections of Earth’s crust to move. This may result in earthquakes, volcanic
      eruption, and the creation of mountains and ocean basins.
    • 2.2b Analysis of earthquake wave data (vibrational disturbances) leads to the conclusion
      that there are layers within Earth. These layers—the crust, mantle, outer core, and
      inner core—have distinct properties.

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