The Atmosphere: It's a Gas! (AIG IRP)

Stage 1: Engage

Explain to students that before they can study Earth’s modern atmosphere and air quality issues, they must use clues that scientists have found in Earth’s rock formations, volcanic eruptions, meteorites, and other planets in our solar system to determine how our atmosphere came to exist in its present form.  Give each pair of students an envelope of the cut-apart “Earth’s Three Atmospheres” worksheet cards.  Direct students to locate the three classification header cards—one for each phase of Earth’s atmosphere development.  Explain to students that they will read the remaining fifteen cards and place them under each of the header cards using analytical reasoning skills.  Students should also attempt to place the cards under each heading in a logical, chronological order.

As students classify their cards into the different atmosphere categories, the teacher should check their results and ask any leading questions as necessary. Examples of leading questions may include:  “What would need to happen before _______?”  “What could be the result of _______?” “Would that have happened before or after ________?” “Are there other cards that discuss the same _________?”

As students complete the classification activity, direct them to use their grouped statements to create a visual diagram that depicts each of Earth’s atmosphere stages.

Diagrams should be assessed on a 1-4 scale rubric:
4: diagram accurately reflects the information presented in the classification activity and is easily interpreted
3: diagram accurately reflects the information presented in the activity and requires minimal explanation for interpretation
2: diagram is missing some key information or requires significant explanation for interpretation
1: diagram is missing significant information or is unable to be interpreted