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Teaching Resources

Volcanoes and Plate Tectonics

STEM Subject

Volcanoes and Plate Tectonics

National Middle School Science Standards

Earth Science

Key Terms

igneous petrology, plate tectonics, magma, core, mantle, subduction, spreading seafloor 

Key Concepts:

  • Volcanoes as windows into Earth
  • Dynamics of plate tectonics 
  • Distribution of submarine volcanoes 
  • Formation of igneous materials
  • Technology used by petrologists

Resource Types:

Associated Experts

An ash plume rises from Mount Cleveland volcano in Alaska. NASA image.An ash plume rises from Mount Cleveland volcano in Alaska. NASA image.
Webcasts (video) and Podcasts (audio) Shows
Printable Lessons
Online Activities
Science Literacy Resources
Posters and Worksheets 


The Volcanoes and Plate Tectonics teaching resources support students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations:

Earth Science


Earth's Place in the Universe
  • MS-ESS1-4Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth's 4.6-billion-year-old history.


Earth's Systems
  • MS-ESS2-2Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.
  • MS-ESS2-3Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.


Earth and Human Activity
  • MS-ESS3-1Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth's mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes.
  • MS-ESS3-2Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.
All Q?rius Resources for These Standards
Dr. Elizabeth Cottrell leaning on a table in a lab with a machine and laptop computer on it. Other equipment in background.
Elizabeth Cottrell
Geologist, Curator-in-Charge, Rock and Ore Collections
Close-up of Geologist Dr. Benjamin Andrews in a green jacket and hat standing on the summit of a volcano. Clouds are behind.
Benjamin Andrews
Geologist, Global Volcanism Program
Medium shot of geologist Dr. Cara Santelli in white shirt, gray sweater and blue gloves at a microscope in her lab at NMNH.
Cara Santelli
Geologist and Curator of Mineral Sciences
Tags: volcano

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