Geologic Time Mini Project

173 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


Students will be able to explain that many changes in biodiversity have occurred since life evolved on Earth.

Big Idea

Earth’s rocks and other materials provide a record of its history.


5 minutes

At the beginning of this mini-project, I show The History of Earth in one year video I made, meant to inspire students to learn more about the different eras. Often, The students have a hard time visualizing how much time 4.6 billion years actually is, and by compressing this time into the more comprehensible one year, the students begin to realize the vastness of the history of Earth.

Guided Research - 2 days

50 minutes

After the video, I navigate to the Geologic Time website I created for this mini-project. Although this is an individual project, the final product is collaborative. Students are told that they have been hired by a travel agency that is promoting travel through time. Each student is assigned to one of the four major eras in history (Pre-cambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic). 

Once the assignments are handed out, the students are asked to navigate to the website, where they can find the data sheet and links to their respective eras. The data sheet serves as a note-taking tool that helps hold students accountable during the research phase of the project, and aids students in obtaining the needed information as they derive meaning from scientific text (SP8 Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information). After two days of guided research, the students are ready to tackle the creative aspect of the project.

Product Development - 2 days

50 minutes

The final product is a collaborative, interactive poster, where all four eras are represented. Although each student is responsible for their piece, the end product must be cohesive in design and include interactive features (flaps, folded paper, etc.). The students have access to sample pictures of work done in previous years and other topics on the website. I use this type of collaborative project to promote the development of artistic and engineering design skills. This is a visual product, where the students must work together using principles of line, color, shape and form to make their collective design visually pleasing, while maintaining the individuality of their ideas.

As the students work to create their product, they are exposed to the CCC Structure and Function, specifically, "Structures can be designed to serve particular functions by taking into account properties of different materials, and how materials can be shaped and used". The conversations had while they collectively decide what information to include helps to develop a sense of how "stability might be disturbed either by sudden events or gradual changes that accumulate over time." (CCC Stability and Change).

On the website, the students also have access to the Rubric, and I go over it several times during the project to help students meet the standard.

Want to see what the project development and final products look like? Go ahead and watch this video.

My students would like to give your students some advice on how to work through this project.

Presentation Day

40 minutes

On presentation day, I start by giving students about 10 minutes to put any final touches on their work, and set up their posters around the classroom. As a way to keep students accountable for visiting several posters and interacting with them, I give students the Geologic Time Poster Walk note catcher, and ask that they complete it as they visit with each other (123). Since the posters are "interactive", I remind students to be careful with them "No-one wants to see their work torn by carelessness."

As students are walking around viewing each other's work, I take this opportunity to grade posters using the rubric. This also allows me to give any feedback beyond the rubric, and ask any clarifying questions about the work.