NAGT > Teaching Resources > Teaching Activities > TELS Inquiry Project

TELS Inquiry Project

S. Raj Chaudhury
Christopher Newport University
Author Profile

TELS Inquiry projects are online investigations designed around core topics in the science curriculum. Students manipulate computer models to gather evidence for explaining real world phenomena - in this case geologic events such as rock formation.



This activity would be used in an introductory science course for future elementary teachers or at a middle school level (grades 6-9) earth science course.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered:

Minimal prior knowledge of geology is expected. Familiarity with Web browsers is needed.

How the activity is situated in the course:

For Middle School students, this activity would be done in pairs, in a computer lab and would take 4-5 class periods (45 minute blocks). For a college non-science majors course, this would be ideal as a 2 hour lab.

National or State Education Standards addressed by this activity?:

NSES or AAAS standards on "Processes that Shape the Earth" including Rock Cycle.


Content/concepts goals for this activity:

The student will understand the formation of igneous rocks by building and using a computer model of the rock cycle.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity:

Observation of model behavior, formulation of hypothesis (Why are large crystals created in granite and small crystals created in rhyolite?) and evaluation of ideas.

Other skills goals for this activity:

The TELS modules all require significant note-taking using an online 'Notes' feature which has been programmed to prompt students to record predictions, observations and reflections about the concepts they are learning.

Description of the activity/assignment

Students in the TELS Rock Cycle activity investigate the nature of different kinds of rocks one might observe in the countryside of Northern California. They then use observations of different types of crystal constituents of the rocks to learn about the formation of rocks, using observations from a computer model and hands-on experiments.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students write a story that is saved online about a granite rock that is found on top of a mountain in the Sierra Nevada range. They then engage in peer-commenting of another group's story. THe teacher can peruse all saved work and create a rubric to evaluate the student artifacts.

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs Teachers can receive free logins to this site. Search for project ID 16126.

Controlled Vocabulary Terms

Subject: Geoscience
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14), Middle (6-8)
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:K12