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Physical Science Lesson Plans





8th grade Earth Science


Mesozoic Era in Arkansas


This lesson is a revision of a lesson on the Mesozoic Era in Arkansas, based on the research I have done this summer at Great Lakes Chemical Company. Student will continue their study of the geology of Arkansas from 225 million year ago to 65 million years ago by learning about the types of strata laid down by the Gulf of Mexico while it covered this area and as it withdrew. We will also learn of the economic importance to this community of what happened and why the bromine industry of the United State is centered here in sough Arkansas. This is one section of an interdisciplinary unit on Arkansas that will involve language arts (Arkansas writers), history (Arkansas History) and science.


Concepts to be covered in this lesson are: 1) that most of Arkansas was once covered by a shallow sea, during which time sediments were deposited forming various limestone strata, 2) that the sea withdrew, exposing the surface to erosion, and 3) that other geologic events took place causing faulting and folding to occur, trapping oil, gas, and salt waters in certain layers. We will also explore the economic impact of these geologic events on this specific community.


Student will already have learned the four eras of geologic time and when they occurred. They will have learned about strata, how it is usually deposited, how it is deformed, about permeable and impermeable layers and their importance in trapping material in and area.


Students will, after the study of the Mesozoic Era in Arkansas have an understanding of what happened geologically in Arkansas (Sough Arkansas in particular) between 225 million years and 65 million years ago and of its importance to us today.


This lesson will require two 45-50 minute periods. During the first period, a portion (Mesozoic Era) of the video, Arkansas Through Time and Space, will be shown and discussed. In the second class period, the section of "Arkansas and The Land" on the Mesozoic Era will be discussed and a worksheet will be filled in.


National Science Education Standards: Geochemical Cycles, The origin and evolution of the earth systems

BENCHMARKS: Processes that shape the earth

ASCF: 1.1.20 Recognize that scientific through is a continuum influenced by historical events.

5.1.12 Explain the natural changes in the earth’s surface over time.

5.1.14 Describe and model the natural physiographic division of Arkansas.

5.1.16 Investigate the impact that water in all of its forms has on the earth’s surface.


For Each Student:

For The Teacher:

map of brine areas in Southern Arkansas.

Sources: "Arkansas and The Land" by Tom Foti and Gerald Hanson (U of A Press) can be found in any bookstore. I used my supply money several years ago and purchased a classroom set. The video, Arkansas Through Time and Space, is available from your local co-op. I purchased mine at a meeting. There are also computer discs available that go along with each section of the video; there are short quizzes for each section that the students can take on the computer. I have never used them but if you have a TV interfaced to your computer, it might be a great new way for assessment.



There are no special safety precautions since this lesson takes place completely in the regular classroom.


All students should grasp this material because it will be presented in several ways: video, a guided discussion, reading of the text, and computer work. Students will make a page for their Arkansas Booklet with notes and a map or two.


This will be part of an interdisciplinary unit involving language arts, history, and science. The same maps are used both in science and in history, and the history teacher and I use a common vocabulary list. In literature, the students will be reading books, short stories, and poems by Arkansas authors. In science, the students will study the geographic divisions of Arkansas with regard to geology, biology, and the economy. Eighth graders usually take the driver’s test and are interested in road signs, speed limits, and types of highways; thus, this is a good time to teach map reading skills, using an Arkansas map and information on Arkansas parks. I have done this for the past three years and even my most educationally challenged students have learned to read the mileage chart, the key, and can tell you what highways go from one city to another.

ASSESSMENT SUGGESTIONS: Students will turn in a finished product at the end of the Arkansas Unit. There will be an introduction done in language arts, either descriptive paragraph or a poem. Points will be earned both in science and language arts.







11,12 Chemistry

TITLE: Coal burning and acid rain


How does the pH of simulated acid rain produced from burning cleaned coal compare to that from untreated coal?


The purpose of this lesson is to find out the relative pH levels of simulated acid rain produced from burning cleaned coal and untreated coal. Students will burn a sample of each type of coal in a deflagrating spoon under a fume hood and collect the smoke in a jar. Water will be added to the jar, forming simulated acid rain. The students will use universal indicator to determine the pH of each solution. The pH of the solution from the untreated coal should be lower (more acidic) because the larger amount of sulfur in that type will dissolve in water to make sulfuric acid.


Students will predict which type of coal should produce the most acidic rain. They will use lab skills to conduct the experiment.


The students will learn how to collect a gas and dissolve it in water to make a solution. They will also learn to determine the pH of the solution using a color chart for universal indicator.


Observing, comparing, applying, hypothesizing, collecting and analyzing data, forming conclusions


I. Science Teaching Standards:

A. Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students. In doing this, teachers select science content and adapt and design curricula to meet the interests, knowledge, understanding, abilities, and experiences of students. (A.2, p.30)

B. Teachers of science guide and facilitate learning. In doing this, teachers orchestrate discourse among students about scientific ideas. (B.2, p.32)

C. Teachers of science engage in ongoing assessment of their teaching and of student learning. In doing this, teachers use multiple methods and systematically gather data about student understanding and ability. (C.1, p.37)

D. Teachers of science design and manage learning environments that provide students with the time, space, and resources needed for learning science. In doing this, teachers create a setting for student work that is flexible and supportive of science inquiry. (D.2, p. 43)

E. Teachers of science develop communities of science learners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry and the attitudes and social values conducive to science learning. In doing this, teachers nurture collaboration among students. (E.3, p. 46)

II. Assessment in Science Education Standards:

A. Assessments must be consistent with the decisions they are designed to inform. Assessments are deliberately designed. (A.1, p. 78)

B. The technical quality of the data collected is well matched to the decisions and actions taken on the basis of their interpretation. The feature that is claimed to be measured is actually measured. (C.1, p. 83)

C. Assessment tasks must be appropriately modified to accommodate the needs of students with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, or limited English proficiency. (D.3, p. 85) III. Content Standards

A. Solids, liquids, and gases are concepts included in the structure and properties of matter. (p. 178)

B. Combustion and formation of hydrogen ions are concepts included in chemical reactions. (p. 179)


(For a group size of 4 students)


The day before the lab, reserve the library for students to research and write a page about low sulfur coal, sulfur-washed coal, sources of deposits, transportation, demand for coal, chemical processes involved in the formation of acid rain, and problems caused by acid rain. Have them refer to their research to write their predictions. While each lab group is working together to write their prediction and explanation, one lab group at a time will come to the fume hood and collect a bottle of smoke from burning each type of coal. They will cover each jar with a glass plate and take it back to their lab table. There they will have the rest of the supplies to finish the lab. As groups finish, they could make extra points for exploring the effects of the simulated acid rain on surfaces, such as marble, metal, and leaves. They could also take a sample of coal from another state and compare the acidity levels.



The smoke from burning coal should be restricted to the fume hood.


  1. Write a prediction about which type of coal should produce rain with the lower pH and explain why.
  2. As your group gets your prediction checked by the teacher, go one group at a time to the fume hood.
  3. Using a spatula, put enough coal from the container labeled "untreated" to half-way fill a deflagrating spoon.
  4. Hold the spoon in the Bunsen burner flame until it begins to smoke.
  5. Lower the spoon into a gas-collecting jar until it is full of smoke. If any burning coal remains, the next group can continue to use it and replace it as needed.
  6. Cover the jar with a glass plate while you repeat steps 3-5 with coal from the container labeled "treated."
  7. Take the two jars to the lab table and pour 10 mL of water into each jar.
  8. Cover the jar and swirl the water, dissolving the smoke.
  9. Put one drop of universal indicator into each solution and determine its pH according to the chart provided. Tell whether or not your prediction was correct.


Students should find the solution from the untreated coal has a lower pH than that from the treated coal.


Students could:

  1. Compare the precision of a pH meter, litmus, pH paper, and universal indicator.
  2. Compare the effects of each solution on a paramecium sample from a pond or on germination time of bean seeds.
  3. Burn some unknown coal, determine the pH of a solution of its smoke, and determine if it was treated or untreated.
  4. Calculate the hydrogen ion concentration for each pH.
  5. Compare the results with the acidity of a solution formed from the smoke of burning wood.
  6. Write a paragraph about how we could get utilities and industry to use more low sulfur coal.


Each of the following criteria could be worth 5 points:

  1. Working diligently in the lab, not talking about something unrelated to the lab.
  2. Writing a prediction and explaining why.
  3. Leaving the lab area clean for the next class.
  4. Turning in a lab report containing all the requested information.

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