From  VDOE's Curriculum Framework (a student friendly version is located on the activity page in the Study Guide for each standard)
Standard 5.7 - Earth's Surface
The student will investigate and understand how the Earth’s surface is constant ly changing. Key concepts include
a) the rock cycle including the identification of rock types;
b) Earth history and fossil evidence;
c) the basic structure of the Earth’s interior;
d) plate tectonics (earthquakes and volcanoes);
e) weathering and erosion; and
f) human impact.

The concepts developed in this standard include the following:

· Rocks move and change over time due to heat and pressure within the Earth and weathering and erosion at the surface. These and other processes constantly change rock from one type to another.

· Rocks have properties that can be observed, tested, and described. Composition, grain size and textural features, color, and the presence of fossils help with identification. Classification keys (5.1) can aid this process.

· Depending on how rocks are formed, they are classified as sedimentary (layers of sediment cemented together), igneous (melting and cooling, lava and magma), and metamorphic (changed by heat and pressure).

· Scientific evidence indicates the Earth is very ancient (approximately 4.6 billion years old). The age of many rocks can be determined very reliably. Fossils provide information about life and conditions of the past.

· Scientific evidence indicates that the Earth is composed of four concentric layers (crust, mantle, inner core, and outer core), each with its own distinct characteristics. The outer two layers are composed primarily of rocky material. The innermost layers are composed mostly of iron and nickel. Pressure and temperature increase with depth beneath the surface.

· The Earth’s heat energy causes movement of material within the Earth. Large continent-sized blocks, (plates) move slowly about the Earth’s surface, driven by that heat.

· Most earthquakes and volcanoes are located at the boundary of the plates (faults). Plates can move together (convergent boundaries), apart (divergent boundaries), or slip past each other horizontally (sliding boundaries, also called strike-slip or transform boundaries).

· Geological features in the oceans (including trenches and mid-ocean ridges) and on the continents (mountain ranges, including the Appalachian Mountains) are caused by current and past plate movements.

· Rocks and other materials on the Earth’s surface are constantly being broken down both chemically and physically. The products of weathering include clay, sand, rock fragments, and soluble substances. Weathered rock material can be moved by water and wind and deposited as sediment.

· Humans have varying degrees of impact on the Earth’s surface through their everyday activities. With careful planning, the impact on the land can be controlled.

In order to meet this standard, it is expected that students should be able to:
· apply basic terminology (underlined in overview) to explain how the Earth surface is constantly changing.
· draw and label the rock cycle and describe the major processes and rock types involved.
· compare and contrast the origin of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.
· identify rock samples (granite, gneiss, slate, limestone, shale, sandstone, and coal) using a rock classification key.
· make plausible inferences about changes in the Earth over time based on fossil evidence. This includes the presence of fossils of organisms in sedimentary rocks of Virginia (the Appalachians, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain/Tidewater).
· describe the structure of Earth in terms of its major layers (crust, mantle, and inner and outer cores) and how the Earth’s interior affects the surface.
· differentiate among the three types of plate tectonic boundaries (divergent, convergent, and sliding boundaries) and how these relate to the changing surface of the Earth and the ocean floor (5.6).
· compare and contrast the origin of earthquakes and volcanoes and how they affect the Earth’s surface.
· design an investigation to locate, chart, and report weathering and erosion at home and on the school grounds. Create a plan to solve erosion problems that may be found.
· differentiate between weathering and erosion.
· design an investigation to determine the amount and kinds of weathered rock material found in soil.
· describe how people change the Earth’s surface and how negative changes can be controlled.