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Lesson Plans

Welcome to our library of lesson plans! Search through our lesson plans by NGS standard and/or grade. We welcome you to adapt any lesson plan to your curriculum. Lessons with a star next to their name have been taught by Caltech GPS volunteers in Pasadena Unified School District classrooms. These lesson plans are continually being tested and revised.

Students will use mud samples collected on a field trip to create their own pint-sized microbial communities in flasks. Students will observe their flasks with their eyes and with a microscope to learn about microbial communities in aerobic and anaerobic environments. This lesson can be modified to use mud provided by the instructor to offer it without a field trip component. (2x 1.5 hrs)
Students will observe, describe, and interpret a variety of fossil and rock examples. This lesson helps students experience how rocks help scientists understand Earth's past climatic conditions. The lesson can be taught with physical rock samples from Caltech's collection, or with handouts with photos of rock examples (included). (60 mins)
Students will test hypotheses about the factors that can change the strength of a debris flow through a hands-on experiment. This classroom lesson can be paired with a field trip to a local debris basin. (2 hrs)
Students will compare and contrast different types of soil, including soil from their neighborhood, through hands-on observations. This lesson is designed to be taught outdoors (e.g., on school grounds), but can be modified for a classroom. (1 hr)
Students will explain how plants transform energy using photosynthesis and will use an experiment to observe how blocking light causes leaves to bleach. (2x 1 hr)
Students learn about stormwater runoff and erosion, using their bodies in an interactive physical activity outside. (60 mins)
Demonstrate how difficult it can be to predict when sudden Earth events will be triggered - volcanoes, earthquakes, etc. (1 hour)
Students will learn to describe rocks and minerals, and start to understand the processes that form them. (60 mins)