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Geothermal Greatness

Grades 4 through 6
Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, and Technology

Lesson Plan


The teacher will discuss the concepts of the water cycle and the layers of the Earth.  The teacher will introduce the concept of geothermal features.  Students will then research how geothermal features are formed and the differences between the two main types.  Students will show their findings and results through a project of their choice.


The students will understand that the water cycle is influenced by temperature, pressure, and the topography of the land.  Students will understand the differences between various types of geothermal features.  Students will create a product to demonstrate knowledge of geothermal features.


Four 45- to 60-minute sessions

Materials List

  • 1 photocopy of the following worksheets:
    • "Water Cycle" worksheet
    • "Geothermal Greatness" worksheet
    • "Tell Us More!" worksheet
    • "How Does It All Happen?" worksheet
  • 1 class map of the United States
  • Copies of texts that give information about the water cycle
  • Chart paper
  • Writing and drawing materials


  • Geothermal
  • Hot Spring
  • Fumarole
  • Geyser
  • Volcano
  • Lava
  • Crust
  • Mantle
  • Core
  • Evaporation
  • Condensation
  • Precipitation
  • Runoff
  • Sublimation
  • Sunlight


  • Introduce the students to the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program.  The program is described at  Tell the students that the back of a coin is called the reverse, and "obverse" is another name for the front.  With the students, examine each of the five 2010 quarter designs.  Locate each of the sites on a class map.  Answer any student questions.
  • Our country has many beautiful national parks and forests.  Ask the students what they know about national parks and forests like Yosemite, Yellowstone, Mount Hood, Hot Springs, and the Grand Canyon.  Ask them to identify where these sites are located.
  • With the students, discuss various geothermal features (hot springs, geysers, fumaroles, mud pots) in our national parks forests and what causes them.
  • Tell the students they will be researching to find out more about geothermal features.  Complete the "Water Cycle" worksheet with the students.  Discuss how lakes and rivers are examples of sources for the water cycle.  Using chart paper, review the layers of the Earth with the students.  As a class, discuss how the water cycle and layers of the Earth are important building blocks of information for geothermal features.  Have the students identify portions of the water cycle and where they occur in a geothermal feature.
  • Using available text and Internet resources, allow the students time to research various geothermal features.  Have the students record their findings on the "Geothermal Greatness" and the "How Does It All Happen?" worksheets.  Have the students complete the "Tell Us More!" worksheet to summarize what they found.
  • Have the students discuss the results from the worksheets with each other and then decide which project to complete on geothermal features.
  • Have the students work independently on their selected projects from the project plan and present them to the class.


  • Take anecdotal notes about the students' participation in class discussions.
  • Evaluate the students' worksheets and projects to see whether they have met the lesson objectives.
  • Use the rubric to evaluate performance on the final product.

Differentiated Learning

  • Allow students to work in pairs or small groups.
  • Allow students to use a scribe to complete their worksheets.

Connection to



National Council of Teachers of English ( and International Reading Association (

  • Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems.  They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Social Studies

National Council for the Social Studies (

  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • People, Places, and Environments


International Society for Technology in Education (

  • Research and Informational Fluency:  Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.


National Science Teachers Association (

  • Understanding of scientific concepts.
  • An appreciation of "how we know" what we know in science.
  • Understanding of the nature of science.
  • Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world.
  • The dispositions to use the skills, abilities, and attitudes associated with science.
  • Earth and Space Science:  All students should develop an understanding of the structure of the Earth system and Earth's history

United States Department of Education National Technology Plan

Helpful Hints

  • Make sure to model for the students how to complete the water cycle and the connection to the geothermals.
  • Review the parts of the Earth with the students, either on the overhead or on chart paper, for later reference.
  • Review the completed worksheets with the students, either on the overhead or on chart paper, for later reference.
  • Address and highlight any unfamiliar or new vocabulary and record it on a chart.
  • Make copies of necessary materials.
  • Bookmark websites to guide students to exactly where you want them to research.

Student Version


You will learn about the layers of the Earth, the water cycle, and geothermal features found in our national parks and forests.  You will research details about geothermal features to complete a project.

Step-By-Step Directions

  1. Your teacher will introduce your class to national sites and the America the Beautiful Quarters™ Program.
  2. Our country has many beautiful national parks and forests.  What do you know about some of our national parks and forests, such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, Mount Hood, Hot Springs, and the Grand Canyon?  Use the links on to learn more about the national parks and forests.  Think about the following questions as you research:
    • Where are these sites located?
    • What do you think you would see at these sites?
  3. You may notice some geothermal features (such as hot springs, geysers, fumaroles, and mud pots).  Think about what you know about the layers of the Earth and the water cycle.  How might these connect to geothermal features?
  4. Complete the "Water Cycle" worksheet to find the connection.
  5. Using resources available to you, research different types of geothermal features, how they are created, and what makes them each special.
  6. Record your findings on the "Geothermal Greatness" and "How Does It All Happen?" worksheets.
  7. Talk about your findings with others in your class.  Complete the "Tell Us More!" worksheet and decide which project to complete on geothermal features.
  8. Choose one of the projects listed in the project plan to demonstrate your understanding about geothermal features that can be found in our national parks and forests.  For each one, use your completed worksheets as a guide.  Be sure to include color diagrams and explanations, locations, and interesting facts for each.
  9. Present your project to the class.

Related Links


The Department of the Treasury Seal