How I Use It
At the beginning of our unit on the layers of the earth, I gave this tool to my students to merely explore. As we got deeper into the cause and effect of moving plates, we would view the interactive text together. The app does a great job of explaining the ways the plates move and include visual representations of what happens at each layer. My students also really enjoyed getting to manipulating the layers of crust to create mountains and seeing where volcanoes would form based on where they moved the plate.
We will also use this tool to explore biomes and the water cycle since the tool features great information about those topics. I will likely create guides or questions to check for understanding, since none are really provided with the app.
As a teacher, I really valued that the animation continued even while the students were not actively involved in manipulating it. This gave them a real idea of what's happening to the crust over time. Especially for something you can't see, even if you were on a field trip, this was a fantastic tool for making science real for my students.
For some of my students, it was very easy for them to use because of how engaging it was. For others, the amount of text was a bit cumbersome. They REALLY enjoyed the sandbox opportunities at the end of the text, which has helped set the stage for cause and effect conversations for our middle school science lab time.
One thing I wish was a little better was the amount of time that lapses and the rate that weather systems or wildlife grows or dies within the sandbox feature. Things move so quickly that some students missed some of the phases of growth or destruction.