Earth’s Spheres & Systems 5th Grade Science Centers: Biosphere, Hydrosphere, Atmosphere, Geosphere
Are you looking for engaging and hands-on activities to help your students explore Earth’s Spheres and Systems? These fifth-grade Earth’s Spheres and Systems Science Stations provide eight different science stations where your students can learn about the interaction between the biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and geosphere. Through these activities, they will gain a deeper understanding of how these spheres interact with each other as well as their impact on ecosystems. The experiments and activities focus on 5-ESS2-1 and will deepen your student’s understanding of the five layers of the atmosphere, the kingdoms in the biosphere, and the systems in the geosphere.
What’s Included in the Earth’s Spheres and Systems Science Stations
In these science stations students are introduced to a genera overview of the four spheres on Earth and how they affect each other. Students learn about how the spheres interact to create landforms in the geosphere and how that affects coastal erosion and deposition. They also learn about how the hydrosphere interacts with eight major ecosystems and creates changes in those ecosystems. Also included are activities about the five layers of the atmosphere, the kingdoms in the biosphere, and how the geosphere affects the hydrosphere.
The science stations contain challenging material for fifth graders, with new words and concepts in easy to implement, interactive stations. They are are designed to help students understand how the Earth’s four spheres interact with one another.
Focus on NGSS Standards for 5- 5-ESS2-1
Next Generation Science Standards are written to be “Three Dimensional.” The three dimensions are Performance Expectation, Disciplinary Core Idea, and Science and Engineering Practices/Crosscutting Concepts.
The Conservation of Mass Science Stations Unit focuses on these standards:
- Performance Expectation 5-ESS2-1. Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
- Disciplinary Core Ideas:
- ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems – Earth’s major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth’s surface materials and processes. The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate. Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the landforms to determine patterns of weather.
- Science and Engineering Practices: Develop a model using an example to describe a scientific principle.
- Crosscutting Concepts: Systems and System Models to described in terms of its components and their interactions.
Earth’s Spheres Posters
Like all of our science stations, the Earth’s Spheres and Systems stations come with Big Idea posters that explain the core science ideas students will learn in this unit of study.
Some of the Big Ideas include:
- The hydrosphere is controlled by the water cycle.
- The geosphere is shaped by three processes: (1) plate tectonics; (2) rock cycle; (3) weathering, erosion, and deposition.
There are six Big Idea Posters in this unit. Only the Earth’s Spheres and Systems Unit Bundle includes the Big Idea Posters. The Big Idea Posters are not included for each individual station.
Vocabulary Cards for Earth’s Spheres and Systems
This resource provides two sets of vocabulary cards. The first has both pictures and word definitions, and can be cut apart for use in science centers where students can match the cards. Additionally, the cards are designed to fit perfectly in pocket charts!
The second set of vocabulary cards displays words and definitions in a larger font, making it an ideal option for creating a science word wall. Both sets contain identical words.
The Earth’s Spheres and Systems vocabulary cards is also only available in the Unit Bundle. They are not available for each individual science station.
Differentiated Responses for Each Science Station
The Earth’s Spheres and Systems Science Stations, like all science centers, offer diverse methods for students to engage with each station. Within each station, there are five distinct approaches for students to evaluate their experience.
- short answer questions
- fill-in-the-blank questions without a word bank
- fill-in-the-blank with a word bank
- task cards with short answers
- task cards with multiple choice
Although similar to one another, each variation varies in the level of independence required. Choose fill-in-the-blanks exercises for students struggling with reading. But go for short answer exercises only if they can craft responses on their own. Remember, short answer exercises are most challenging. Choose the format that best fits your classroom and students. Students are also encouraged to use their science journal task cards. Answer keys are included. See examples of the questions in some of the images below.
Certain activities may feature an activity or earth’s spheres worksheet along with the differentiated responses. The activity sheet functions as the “work” or the project of the station, while the differentiated responses allow students to expand their thinking about the topic and concept at large.
Reading Passages about Earth’s Spheres Interactions
Reading passages are included in all stations, except the Watch and Play stations. Although optional, they help students build foundational knowledge and reinforce key concepts. When students lack prior knowledge on a topic of a station, they can use them to catch up.
The reading passages come in two formats. You’ll see versions of both of these formats in the below photographs. Both versions have the same text, but different layouts.
- Full-page with color border
- Two-Column with a black border
Google Classroom Components
All of our fifth grade science stations come with components easily integrated with Google Classroom. Google Forms and Google Slides are included for most stations.
- A Google Form™️ with Reading Passage & Differentiated Questions is available for the Watch, Investigate, Diagram, Read, Model, Explore and Sort stations.
- Google Slides™️ with Activity Directions & Worksheets are available for Investigate, Diagram, Model, Explore, Sort
While the majority of our hands-on activities require physical components, we have made it easy by including clear directions and recording sheets in Google Slides.
Watch a Video about the the Earth’s Spheres Interactions
In this Watch a Video science station, students watch one of two videos about the four spheres on Earth. They learn how the four spheres interact with each other. Both videos compliment one another. Each video has a separate set of differentiated questions so you can create two stations or utilize both videos at one science center.
Play a Game About Earth’s Spheres Interactions
The Play Science Station is an educational tool that combines a board game with questions and diagrams. Students collaborate to answer questions and advance along the board. With its engaging format and interactive content, it promotes a fun and effective learning experience.
The Play a Game station has plenty to offer, including a crossword puzzle and word search. Two versions of the crossword puzzle are available; one with a word list and the other without. Digital versions of the games are also available, with the digital puzzle changing each time the page is loaded, allowing each student to work on their own version of the game.
Investigate Interactions Between the Geosphere and Hydrosphere
In the Investigate Activity students read about how the geosphere and hydrosphere interact with one another. They learn about how the hydrosphere causes weathering and erosion on the geosphere. Like all of our science stations, differentiated questions are included. What you see in the image below is the short answer worksheet.
As part of the investigation, students dive into the ocean’s impact on weathering and erosion. Through recreating the environmental challenge, they identify and solve issues that can withstand the hydrosphere’s force.
Earth’s Spheres Diagram Science Station
The Ecosystems and Hydrosphere station teaches students about the impact of the hydrosphere on ecosystems. By exploring how flora and fauna have adapted to this domain, from drought-afflicted regions to areas of excess rainfall, students can see how living beings interact with the water in their surroundings.
In this activity, students discuss how the biosphere and hydrosphere interact in an ecosystem. They investigate what happens when a part of that ecosystem changes and create a diagram to display these changes. Students are assigned an ecosystem and given pieces of paper describing changes that happen to your ecosystem. They describe what happens to their ecosystem and make a diagram showing what your ecosystem will look like after the changes. Students label the parts of the hydrosphere and biosphere and show the adaptations the organisms have developed to survive these changes.
Read About the Four Earth’s Spheres and Their Interactions
At this science station, students dive into our planet’s four spheres and their subsheres, gaining insights on their respective characteristics. Afterwards, they evaluate their comprehension of the passage using either the provided worksheet or the task cards, which also include multiple-choice questions. Take a sneak peek at some of the task cards below.
Model the Geosphere and Biosphere Interaction
The Model Science Station explores the intricate relationship between the geosphere and the biosphere. Students discover how landforms emerge in the geosphere and the vital plants and animals that inhabit these landscapes. A deeper dive is taken into mountains, plateaus, hills, and plains and the organisms that live there. As with our other station, differentiated questions are included to extend the learning.
In the MODEL science station, students learn how landforms affect the types of organisms that live in that area. Students are assigned a landfrom and, given the information from the reading passage and optional additional research, they describe the geosphere and biosphere attributes of that landform. The second part of the station includes a scenario where something changes in the geosphere. Students determine how that change affects the organisms in the biosphere. The final step is creating a three-dementional model of the landform after the change.
Explore the Geosphere and Hydrosphere with Mountains and Rain
The “Explore” station introduces students to mountains and rainfall. The passage specifically dives into the intricacies of the water cycle, showcasing how prevailing winds move clouds. Students explore how mountain ranges act as significant impediments to cloud movement. Included are several examples where rainfall is significantly impacted by the irregularities in wind patterns and terrain. Below is an example of the short answer worksheet with a labeling activity.
For the Explore science activity students explore how the geosphere affects the hydrosphere. They look at a data table of elevation of towns near a mountain range. Studnets graph the average amount of precipitation of rainfall to see how elevation affects rainfall.
Sort How Each of the Earth’s Sphere Affects Another Sphere
In this Sort Science Station, students read a passage about the four spheres on earth. They sort scenarios according to how the spheres affect other spheres.
They sort scenarios into groups that describe the two spheres affected in the scenario, for instance
- atmosphere and biosphere
- atmosphere and geosphere
- atmosphere and hydrosphere
- biosphere and hydrosphere
- biosphere and geosphere
- geosphere and hydrosphere
Here are a few examples. Can you determine which is a group they go in?
- A canyon is formed when rivers weather and erode the rocky surface over many years.
- Water in rock cracks expands when it freezes. Over time, the cracks widen until the rock crumbles.
- If an area floods, many plants and animals cannot live there.
How to Purchase the Fifth Grade Earth’s Spheres and Systems Science Stations
The Earth’s Spheres and Systems Science Station Unit can be purchased on my website or on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Other Fifth Grade Science Stations
We have fifth-grade science stations for all of the NGSS Standards. Click below for information about each one!
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