To increase outreach and encourage pathways for undergraduate majors, we are producing geoscience-related lessons in a “lesson-in-a-box” format. These novel, interactive lessons are grounded in the three-dimensional instructional approach of core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts (Next Generation Science Standards
, 2013) and provide materials needed for high school educators to teach a topic from the geosciences in their biology, chemistry, and/or physics courses, the three core scientific fields required for graduation in most states. This project plans to increase the visibility of geoscience education in high schools, particularly those serving underrepresented minorities, and increase post-secondary pursuits of geoscience study with the aim of ultimately addressing the low diversity currently seen in the field as well as the impending job gap predicted across geoscience disciplines. Lessons will be available from the Knox County Public Library System. Checking out these kits will be free and consumables have been kept to a minimum. This system would reduce obstacles for educators in resource-challenged classrooms and provide geoscience education to at least 1000 students in the local school system through the predicted lifetime of the lesson.
For this specific lesson-in-a-box, we provide materials for a lesson on carbon phases for use in a first or second semester high school chemistry classroom. The objective of the lesson is to obtain, evaluate, model, and communicate information about carbon’s structure and function. The lesson starts with a brief review of phase diagrams, specifically for carbon, followed by reviews of mineral characteristics and the physical properties of the layers of the Earth, especially pressure, temperature, and chemistry. Next, students collaborate in small groups to analyze and interpret a series of relevant charts and diagrams, and then use a set of interlocking pieces to construct a molecular model of graphite and a diamond. A series of guided follow-up questions, discussed as groups or a whole classroom, focus on the minerals’ similarities and differences, leading students to make inferences about the relationships between the structure and physical properties of the materials.