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  • Key Stage 3
  • SciQ Sequences

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Imaginative inquiry
Topic: Rocks & weathering

Mount Etna is erupting again, and students join Clive Oppenheimer, a volcanologist often interviewed by the BBC, as he uses advanced monitoring techniques to predict eruptions. How far will the lava spread? Does it need to be diverted? When will the eruption stop? To answer these questions, Clive and his students use portable spectrometers to study the gases emitted by the volcano, and thermal imaging from helicopters. This allows them a glimpse of deep inside the volcano at the processes that power the eruption. Earth. Zooming up, they model the lava flow on the island, explain how rocks and crystal form, and show how to protect its inhabitants.

The activity is integrated with a specially made Teachers TV programme.

'Etna' is part of the Catastrophe unit from upd8's best-selling 11-14 course - Wikid. Find out more.. The unit is full of highlights:

- a dramatic simulation of an eruption (similar to the one in Iceland) Sudents pool a range of data, to decide whether to evacuate - a truly memorable way to learn about collboration (how science works).
- a trip to Indonesia, on the trail of the 'Hobbit' - to learn about geological time.
- a dambusting investigation to bring alive the topic of weathering.

All in all, Catastrophe provides 6 weeks of the best Earth Science teaching material around, with APP-based quizzes and levelled problems for assessment.

Published: 28th October 2009
Reviews & Comments: 1

Learning objectives

How over time, changes of state, pressure and temperature inside the Earth transform rocks from one type to another

Try the activity

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Changing Earth (Strategy Framework 5.2)
Communicating and collaborating in science (AF3)

Running the activity

Download the lesson plan for full details.

News links

upd8 wikid course
Details of the science course for 11-14 year olds from which this sample came
upd8 Segue course
Details of the Y9-GCSE transition course that follows on from Wikid.
Wikid assessment criteria: Missions
To assess students' grasp of particles from this activity, or other objectives in the Wikid course. It is a booklet of assessment criteria at every level of understanding.

Media links

Teachers TV clips
Show the TV programme in 3 parts as described in the teachers' guides for the 'Etna' sequence. For Activity 1, show the first few minutes of the Teachers' TV video, in which Giuseppe explains that he measures gases from the volcano. Stop the video whilst the three scientists are in the jeep, driving towards the volcano. For activity 2, show the next part of the Teachers' TV video, in which the scientists study a lava flow. Stop the video as they leave in the jeep. For activity 4, Play the rest of the Teachers' TV video, in which the scientists talk about the day-to-day monitoring of the volcano.

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?


Sep 24th, 2010

5 Star

I have not got to Etna yet but have done the first part of Catastrophe, i.e. 'Evacuate'. It did require a lot of planning and time to get my head around the activity, but once all was in place my Year 8 students really did enjoy taking on the role of scientists arond the volcano.

I couldn't do the activity in the allocated time but now that we have no pressure on us to work towards the dreaded SATs, I have been able to take it through the pace of the students. I have introduced the new APP assessment criteria to my year 8 class and will use this activity to fulfil aspects of AF3 and AF2.

I look forward to using the rest of the activity wth my students and will provide feedback when completed. Thank you for making this wonderful resource available to us.

Ayesha Usmani

Reviewer: Ayesha Usmani