Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Volcanoes and Plate Tectonics


National Middle School Science Standards

Earth Science

Key Terms

igneous petrology, plate tectonics, magma, core, mantle, subduction, spreading seafloor 

Key Concepts

  • Dynamics of plate tectonics 
  • Distribution of submarine volcanoes 
  • Formation of igneous materials
  • Technology used by petrologists

Resource Types

Middle School Level 

High School Level

Advanced Level

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

The Volcanoes and Plate Tectonics teaching resources support students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations.

Earth Science

MS-ESS2 Earth's Systems

  • MS-ESS2-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales
  • MS-ESS2-3 Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions

MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

  • MS-ESS3-1 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth's mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes
  • MS-ESS3-2 Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects

Resource Type
Subject Guides
Grade Level
Learning Standards
Next Generation Science Standards
Earth Science