Interior of the Earth STE(A)M lesson




What is STE(A)M?

STE(A)M is an awesome thing! It stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math. I am so happy that they include art in the acronym. Art and science are my all-time favorites! To be a scientist, you also are somewhat of an artist. Building things, constructing knowledge, mixing chemicals, creating solutions. They are all part of art. I do not mean to bring religion into this, but God is a scientist and an artist to me! I feel that you can do great work with art, using scientific principles. Chemistry can help you paint, engineering can help you build, biology can help you draw about plants and animals. Science is an art and should be considered so. As a scientist, you are building knowledge and actively making it known to everyone through illustrations and work. My degree is in biotechnology and I felt like an artist in the class because we got to also make various solutions and manipulate DNA. It was awesome! Science, art, technology, engineering, and math are all connected. They involve active production and use of knowledge to change the world!


The lesson that I chose to do is something that I will be doing with my 8th graders next week. I found the parts of this lesson online and will tell you where I found it in the references section. I added some parts and deleted some parts of this lesson. I tried to add parts that would be in my area of expertise: chemistry. This part comes with the engage and explore. The lesson is a geology/chemistry lesson on the interior of the Earth. It is hands on and allows the children to be engaged- No Lecture. I know this is a big problem for me. I will describe what I will do next week according to the learning cycle. Please let me know what you think! I want your professional opinion. This is a lab that involves geology with a little bit of chemistry. Kids will actually feel and see concrete representations of the four main layers. I am excited to teach this lesson and will describe it in detail in this blog. I will use learning cycle format. Please let me know what you think! I value your opinions

Before I start, here are the four main layers of the Earth:










The Lesson Plan

Engage- For this part, I will give a presentation on the topic. I will use a video on the movie “Journey to the Center of the Earth” to introduce the topic. I will open the class with explaining the objectives. This is so the students will know what they should learn by the end of the class. The objectives will be to locate the layers of the Earth on a diagram and describe the composition of each layer. I will also have them explain how each layer behaves and how their location determines their physical properties. There will be actually 5 layers because the mantle is divided into the asthenosphere and the bottom layer. I will only use 4 in this lesson, since the asthenosphere is part of the mantle. I will start with showing the class two microscopic pictures of objects to start out with. They will guess the objects. This is what my teacher does every week. I will show a microscopic picture of sand and a microscopic picture of a living thing. For the demonstration, I will have a power point with the different layers and their composition. It will also have information on how each layer behaves.  I will ask, “Okay we are now on the outermost layer of the Earth, what is that layer called?” The students will answer with “lithosphere”. I will then show them the picture and explain the composition of the lithosphere. I will do this with all 5 of the layers.

Explore- This is where I will do my activity. I will have them each work as groups of 4 at their tables. I will pass out bags of substances. These substances include soil for the lithosphere, honey for the mantle, water for the outer core, and Oobleck for the inner core. I will also pass out cards with the names of each layer and another set of cards with the composition of the layer. I will tell the students to touch the bags, but not open them. Their task is then to match the bag of substance, the label of the layer, and the composition to each other. I will check their work. They will also be filling out a notes page, where they copy what is written on the cards into their notes. This is how I will have them learn the 5 layers. I will also ask them to write down the physical qualities of the substances in the pile. For example, is it liquid, solid, ½ liquid ½ solid? They will also write how it behaves in the bag. For example, honey moves very slow and is viscous.

Explain: To explain a little more, I will show videos of what scientists actually think these layers are made of. I will then bring in a model that was made of playdoh to show them the layers and how they are situated. I will have them each read off their cards and why they put certain things near the bags. I will ask them to describe what they think is in each bag and what layer that represents. Another person will tell me how the composition of the substance relates to the layer of the earth. They will describe how they got to the answers and what observations they made. Then I will ask them, “What was in the bags?” and “what are the physical properties of those substances?”

Elaborate: If there is time, to elaborate on the subject, I will find other neat activities for them to do. I probably wouldn’t have time to do that in my 8th grade class because there will not be enough time. I would, if time, have them create their own playdoh models of the Earth. I have seen many of these online. I would have them make a small ball out of red playdoh, wrap orange playdoh around the ball, wrap yellow around that, then wrap green and blue around the growing ball. As a class I would show them how to cut the ball for all the colors to show. We would then take small labels and toothpicks to label the inner and outer cores, the mantle, and the lithosphere. I would then have them research a topic about the interior of the earth, for example, why is the inner core solid and the outer core liquid? Some other ideas could be, What measurements do scientists take to determine this data? What are volcanoes and how do they relate to the layers? Where does convection happen and how does it happen? As a class we would share these ideas to each other and each group would pick a project to do and how they will present the project. They could either present it as a pamphlet, power point, poster, or any other method of their choice.

Evaluate: To evaluate the students, we would play a game. I would have a student come up to the room with a part of the interior of the Earth written on his or her back. The class would see it, but the student wouldn’t. The student would then ask yes or no questions to the class and guess which layer he or she is. After about 10 people have gone, I will give them each a multiple choice and short answer quiz. I would have them explain the 5 layers and their composition. I would then grade the tests and give them back.

Below is a video explaining the important of STE(A)M! Enjoy!


This lesson plan is extremely engaging and will be great with my 8th graders! I think and hope that they will like it. I will not get to do this whole lesson with my 8th graders on Friday, but I
will have time to do as much of it as possible. This lesson involves the art piece of STE(A)M. It allows them to build their own models, learn about the composition of the Earth, and relates everything back to the big picture. Lecturing can be quite boring and kids do not respond well. With this lesson, kids will be out of their seats exploring a topic and learning about it. I am excited to do this lesson with the students and I hope they will like it. It is not something I am used to because I usually lecture, but it might be a lot more fun and interesting for me too!


Berriz, S. (n.d.). The Layers of the Earth. Retrieved from CPalms:

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