Strand V
Use Scientific Knowledge from the Earth and Space Sciences in Real-World Contexts


Science/Strand V
Content Standard 1
All students will describe the Earth’s surface; describe and explain how the Earth’s features change over time; and analyze effects of technology on the Earth’s surface and resources. (Geosphere)


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1
High School


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1/High School
Benchmark 1
Explain the surface features of the Great Lakes region using the Ice Age theory.

Benchmark Clarification

There is evidence to support the Ice Age theory. Students will:

  • Explain moraines and till which are deposits of unsorted sediments
  • Explain glacial scratches (striations) left on bedrock
  • Explain kettle lakes: depressions in glacial deposits left by melting ice blocks, later filled with water
  • Explain parallel arrangement of moraines and Great Lakes’ shorelines
  • Explain erratics: large boulders, mostly of igneous or metamorphic origin, which are deposited in areas of mostly sedimentary bedrock
  • Hypothesize what climatic changes may have occurred to produce ice ages

Key Concept / Real World Context / Instructional Example / Assessment Example / Resources


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1/High School/Benchmark 1
Key Concept
Glacial processes:

  • climate change
  • snow changing to ice
  • pressure
  • moving (advance, retreat)
  • melting

See Long-Term Climate Change (SCI.V.3.HS.1).


  • features: hills, lakes, Great Lakes


  • relief map
  • topographic map
  • elevation map
  • geological maps


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1/High School/Benchmark 1
Real World Context
Local examples in Michigan of glacial formations:

  • moraines
  • kettles
  • drumlins


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1/High School/Benchmark 1
Instructional Example

Benchmark Question: What surface evidence found in the Great Lakes region supports Ice Age theory?

Focus Question: How does the location of moraines in the Great Lakes region support Ice Age theory?

The teacher will show evidence that morainal deposits are found all over the Great Lakes region, sometimes in the form of hills. By reviewing processes of erosion/deposition, students will infer that glaciers and mass wasting are the only common processes that leave unsorted deposits.

Mass wasting is eliminated, because these unsorted deposits are found on the tops of hills.

Students will trace moraines on a topographical map and observe that moraines have a similar shape to Great Lake shorelines. (Shorelines and glacial deposits are created by very different processes) On the same map, students will identify the position and direction of major ice lobes.

Constructing: (SCI.I.1.HS.4).

Reflecting: (SCI.II.1.HS.1), (SCI.II.1HS.3), (SCI.II.1.HS.4).


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1/High School/Benchmark 1
Assessment Example

Using as many examples as possible, each student will prepare and deliver a speech to convince an interested friend, who hasn’t had Earth Science, that continental glaciers once covered Michigan.

Students may include a well-labeled illustration.

Five examples of evidence supporting Ice Age theory:

  • The deposit of unsorted sediments (till) all over Michigan could only have been left behind by glaciers, since mass wasting cannot operate near hilltops.
  • Parallel scratches on bedrock were created when glaciers dragged rock against rock.
  • Kettle lakes are depressions formed in glacial deposits created by melting ice blocks.
  • Moraine ridges are generally parallel to Great Lakes shorelines, suggesting that ice advanced out of lake basins
  • Large boulders of igneous or metamorphic origin left in sedimentary regions (erratics) are too large and widespread to have been moved any other way.

(Give students rubric before activity.)

Scoring Rubric






Explanation of relationships between surface feature and glaciation

Explains the relationship for one to three examples of evidence.

Explains the relationship for four examples of evidence.

Explains the relationship for five examples of evidence.

Explains and illustrates the relationship for five examples of evidence.


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 1/High School/Benchmark 1


Glacier Advance/Retreat Animation: The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) archives a number of maps dealing with Michigan’s glacial history including a 850 K animation depicting glacial advance/retreat in the Great Lakes region. Note the evolving pattern of proglacial lakes and spillways captures the dynamic nature of the ice front.

Glacier Home Page: basic information on the origin, location, and characteristics of glaciers.

Glacier Landform Image Database: Images of erosional,subglacial,superglacial, ice-margin, glacial lakes, and proglacial environments.

The Great Ice Age: a PDF document from the USGS detailing the causes and characteristics of the ice advances during the Pleistocene Epoch.

All About Glaciers.

Dorr & Eschman, Geology of Michigan. Ann Arbor Press, 1970.

Natural Processes of the Great Lakes.

Jason: A Great Lakes Curriculum. NSTA, 1990.

Weinle, Art, “Michigan Moraines.” A classroom-ready worksheet with map.

Available from

Winters, H. Uncovering Michigan. A 35-slide glacial slide show. 1999.

Available from Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association ($28)