Thinking Outside the Box of Rocks

In this article we introduce a National Science Foundation-funded research project called TecRocks that has developed new interactive simulations and an innovative online curriculum module that weaves rock formation and plate tectonics together such that secondary teachers and students can approach these two topics as integrated systems. In the 2022-23 school year, the curriculum was implemented in middle and high school classrooms across the United States. Results showed a significant increase in students’ conceptual understanding and systems reasoning about tectonic environments, the rock-forming processes occurring in these environments, and the rocks that are formed as a result of those processes. Student materials and teacher support resources developed through the project are freely available on the Concord Consortium’s STEM Resource Finder at (

Lord, T., & Pallant, A. (2023). Thinking outside the box of rocks. The Earth Scientist, XL(3), 25–32.