Volcanic Pumice off New Zealand

Learning Objectives

Students will read a recent science news article and discuss the content.
Depending the on the article, students may be asked to draw connections to current events or other classroom exercises.

Standards Addressed

Depending on the article, one of these standards may be most appropriate:

Subject Area - 1: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

     Standard Area - 1.3: Reading, Analyzing, and Interpreting Literature - Fiction and Non-Fiction

          Grade Level - 1.3.6: GRADE 6

               Standard - 1.3.6.A: Read, understand, and respond to works from various genres of literature

                    Assessment Anchor - R6.A.2: Understand nonfiction appropriate to grade level.

Preparation Time Needed

<30 minutes, enough time to read the article and associated questions, answer the questions, and possibly come up with more that are relevant to recent class exercises. 

Activity Description

(Part of the PAESTA In The News - Current Events in Earth and Space Science Series. This series compiles current resources and background materials for recent scientific events in the news. Questions are provided with each topic, written across Bloom's Taxonomic Scale, and can be used for classroom discussion and/or as a writing prompt at the beginning/middle/end of an instructional unit.)

In 2012, an underwater volcanic eruption generated a floating raft of pumice 200 square miles larger than the state of New Jersey.  The golf-ball-size pieces of rock are from the Havre eruption in the Kermadec Islands.

Articles to Share with Students

General Information

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • On a map, find the location of Kermadec Islands and Havre Seamount. 
  • What is pumice?  How does it form?
  • Where and why do volcanic eruptions occur underwater? 
  • Look at a map of ocean currents.  If the pumice does not break down, where might the pumice rocks wash up?
  • What impact might a floating pumice raft have on the biosphere?  What are your thoughts?
  • What do you think will be the impacts on the biosphere of planet Earth if mammal species continue to go extinct?
  • Do you think humans should “clean up” and remove the pumice rocks from the ocean, or leave them be?  Why/why not?
  • Could another pumice raft appear on the ocean surface?  How?  Where?

Compiled September 1, 2012, by L.A. Guertin. Teachers are encouraged to search for more recent articles and related discoveries.

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