Middle School Earth / Space Science Course Overview

Time4Learning offers an online, interactive middle school science curriculum that can be used for homeschool, afterschool, and summer education. At the middle school level, science is organized into courses that cover materials typically offered at the sixth to eighth grade level, although parents can register students in fourth grade and above as part of membership.

Earth/Space Science is one of three standards-based science courses offered at the middle school level. It uses a combination of instructional videos, printable worksheets, writing exercises, tests, quizzes, and both online and offline projects to teach earth and space science. Students also gain access to ‘Nature of Science,’ which is a supplemental course recommended for use alongside the middle school science materials.

This page includes information about the materials covered in the middle school Earth/Space Science course.

Chapter 1 – Human Interactions with the Environment

The materials in this chapter introduce and cover the basics of human interactions with the environment. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of energy resources, other natural resources, renewable and nonrenewable resources, human impact on ecosystems, pollution and minimizing waste.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Energy resources – Students learn how to compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of different energy sources.
  • Other natural resources – Students are taught how to describe the natural origin of the materials used to make common objects.
  • Renewable and nonrenewable resources – Students learn how to categorize resources as either renewable or nonrenewable.
  • Human impact on ecosystems – Students must learn how to describe ways that humans can affect the environment around them.
  • Pollution – Students are taught how to identify point and non- point sources of pollution.
  • Minimizing Waste – Students learn how to explain how to minimize waste production by reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Chapter 2 – Earth’s Structure

The materials in this chapter cover the Earth’s structure. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of Earth’s layers and Earth’s internal heat.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Earth’s layers – Students are taught how to compare and contrast the properties of Earth’s layers.
  • Earth’s internal heat – Students must learn how to describe how heat inside the Earth is transported through the process of convection.

Chapter 3 – Earth’s History

The materials in this chapter cover the Earth’s history. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of fossils and absolute and relative dating.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Fossils – Students will learn how to describe how fossils are the proof of life and how life and environmental conditions have changed over the course of time.
  • Absolute and relative dating – Students are taught how to apply methods of absolute and relative dating to determine the age of rocks and fossils.

Chapter 4 – Rocks and Minerals

The materials in this chapter cover the basics of rocks and minerals. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of minerals, rocks, and the rock cycle.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Minerals – Students are taught how to classify minerals using physical properties such as hardness, color, luster, and streak.
  • Rocks – Students will learn how to distinguish between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.
  • The rock cycle – Students must be able to describe how material can change form in the rock cycle.

Chapter 5 – Geologic Processes

The materials in this chapter cover the geologic process. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of topographic and geologic maps, geologic processes and events, continental drift, introduction to plate tectonics, effects of plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, weathering, erosion, and deposition, and soil.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

    • Topographic and geologic maps – Students are taught how to interpret information on topographic and geologic maps.
    • Geologic processes and events – Students must be able to describe how Earth’s processes today are similar to those that occurred in the past, and how slow geologic processes have large cumulative effects over long periods of time.
    • Continental drift – Students learn how to describe how lithospheric plates the size of continents and oceans move at rates of centimeters per year in response to movements in the mantle.
    • Introduction to plate tectonics – Students are taught how to explain the evidence for the theory of plate tectonics.
    • Effects of plate tectonics – Students are taught how to explain how plate tectonics shapes Earth’s surface.
    • Earthquakes – Students learn to describe how the processes of plate tectonics.

 

  • Volcanoes – Students learn to describe how volcanoes are created by the processes of plate tectonics.
  • Weathering, erosion, and deposition – Students learn how to differentiate between chemical weathering, mechanical weathering, erosion, and deposition.
  • Soil – Students are taught to explain the process of soil formation and relate different components of soil to soil properties.

 

Chapter 6 – Energy on Planet Earth

The materials in this chapter cover the energy on planet Earth. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concept the sun’s energy.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • The sun’s energy – Students are taught to describe how sunlight reaches Earth and its effects on the planet.

 

Chapter 7 – Water

The materials in this chapter cover the basics of water. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of the water cycle, watersheds, oceans, and ocean currents.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • The water cycle – Students will learn how to explain the water cycle and describe how evaporation, transpiration, condensation, cloud formation, precipitation, infiltration, surface runoff, groundwater, and absorption occur within the cycle.
  • Watersheds – Students are taught how to diagram the flow of water through a watershed.
  • Oceans – Students learn how to describe the composition and underwater features of Earth’s oceans.
  • Ocean currents – Students are taught how to distinguish between surface currents and deep ocean currents and describe the factors that create each kind of current.

Chapter 8 – Earth’s Atmosphere

The materials in this chapter cover the Earth’s atmosphere. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of atmospheric composition, atmospheric convection, atmospheric temperature and pressure, and moisture in the atmosphere.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Atmospheric composition – Students must be able to describe the physical properties and chemical composition of Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Atmospheric convection – Students are taught how to describe how convection drives movement of air in Earth’s atmosphere, creating global winds and the jet streams.
  • Atmospheric temperature and pressure – Students learn to explain how uneven heating of Earth’s
    surface can affect air pressure, producing local winds.
  • Moisture in the atmosphere – Students are taught to compare and contrast water vapor, clouds, and humidity, and describe how clouds form and eventually create precipitation.

Chapter 9 – Weather and Climate

The materials in this chapter cover weather and climate. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of air masses and fronts, weather, extreme weather, and climate.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Air masses – Students must be able to distinguish between warm and cold air masses, and warm, cold, occluded, and stationary fronts, and identify these features on a weather map.
  • Weather – Students learn how to predict future weather conditions by interpreting data from weather instruments and weather maps.
  • Extreme weather – Students are taught to distinguish between hurricanes and tornadoes, and describe the formation of each.
  • Climate – Students must be able to distinguish between weather and climate and compare and contrast the climates of different regions on Earth based on their geographic features.

Chapter 10 – Introduction to Astronomy

The materials in this chapter cover the introduction to astronomy. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of astronomical distances and observing astronomical objects.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Astronomical distances – Students learn how to apply the concepts of the astronomical unit and the light year to describe astronomical distances.
  • Observing astronomical objects – Students must be able to describe how scientists can observe astronomical objects and distinguish between objects that emit light and objects that reflect it.

Chapter 11 – The Solar System

The materials in this chapter cover the basics of the solar system. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of the structure of the solar system, the sun, planets and moons, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids, models of the solar system, gravity in our solar system, and formation of the solar system.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Structure of the solar system – Students are taught how to describe the basic structure of the solar system and relate the solar system to the larger universe.
  • The sun – Students must be able to describe the physical and chemical features and properties of the Sun.
  • Planets and moons – Students will learn to compare and contrast the properties of the planets in the solar system and their moons.
  • Asteroids, comets, and meteoroids – Students learn to compare and contrast the properties of asteroids, comets, and meteoroids.
  • Models of the solar system – Students must be able to differentiate between heliocentric and geocentric models of the solar system, and interpret a scale model of the solar system.
  • Gravity in our solar system – Students are taught how to apply Newton’s theory of universal gravitation to explain the structure of the solar system and the motion of objects within it.
  • Formation of the solar system – Students learn how to apply Newton’s theory of universal gravitation to explain the formation of the solar system.

Chapter 12 – Stars and Galaxies

The materials in this chapter cover stars and galaxies. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of stars, Hertzsprung-Russell Diagrams, and galaxies.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Stars – Students are taught how to classify stars by their physical properties including apparent magnitude, temperature, size, and luminosity, and sequence the stages of a star’s existence.
  • Hertzsprung-Russell Diagrams – Students learn how to use a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram and other data to compare the approximate mass, size, luminosity, temperature, structure, and composition of the sun to other stars.
  • Galaxies – Students must be able to describe the Sun’s position within the Milky Way and the universe, and recognize that there are billions of galaxies, each made up of many millions or billions of stars.

Chapter 13 – The Sun, the Moon, and Earth

The materials in this chapter cover the sun, the moon, and Earth. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of Earth’s magnetic field, days, seasons, and years, eclipses, phases of the moon, and tides.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Earth’s magnetic field – Students must be able to describe the origin of Earth’s magnetic field and the effects caused by this field.
  • Days, seasons, and years – Students learn how to analyze the position of Earth and the Sun, Earth’s orbital and rotational motions, and Earth’s axial tilt to describe the causes of days, years, and seasons.
  • Eclipses – Students are taught to analyze the relative positions of Earth, the Sun, and the Moon to predict solar and lunar eclipses.
  • Phases of the moon – Students learn how to predict the current phase of the Moon based on the relative positions of Earth, the Sun, and the Moon.
  • Tides – Students must be able to relate the tides on Earth to the relative positions of the Sun and Moon.

Chapter 14 – Understanding the Universe

The materials in this chapter cover the basics of understanding the universe. It is organized into sections that teach, reinforce and test students on the concepts of space exploration and the origin of the universe.

Lessons in this chapter are organized into the following sections:

  • Space exploration – Students are taught how to describe the history and future of space exploration, including the types of equipment and transportation needed for space travel.
  • The origin of the universe – Students will learn how to describe scientific evidence for the age and origin of the universe.

The Time4Learning Program Structure

Time4Learning has been refined through years of feedback from educators, parents, and students. Subjects are organized into chapters composed of interactive lessons, printable worksheets, quizzes and tests. Students are guided through the activities at their own pace by an automated system.

When students log in, they choose a subject, select a chapter, pick a lesson and complete the activities. A bright green arrow tells them where they left off, and completed work is clearly labeled with a check-mark or a gold star. Visual and auditory prompts guide students through the lessons, making it easy for even young learners to follow, and an online playground (controlled by parents) rewards and motivates them to finish their lessons.

Parents get access to printable lesson plans, teaching tools, detailed reporting and parental support through our online Parent Forum.

Does your child have different achievement levels for math and language arts? No problem! Time4Learning lets you set each individual subject at the appropriate graded level, making this program great for special needs and gifted students.

Curriculum Structure

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