Science Lesson Plan:
Teach vocabulary from Latin roots

Every science lesson plan involves new vocabulary for students. In fact, learning specialized vocabulary is one of the most challenging aspects of any science course at any grade level.

So, to get your creative juices flowing, here is a simple list of 12 words found on a recent regents exam in earth science.

Each word comes from a Greek or Latin root that may help students recall its meaning.

Think of the tremendous advantage held by students with prior knowledge of Latin or Greek! When my Latin students return to visit after attending their first year in college, they always remark how incredibly helpful Latin has been in building college vocabulary.

Here are the top twelve words with Latin roots:

Luminosity: From the Latin root lumen, luminis, a neuter noun meaning light. Luminosity is a measure of brightness.

Conduction: From the Laitn prefix con, meaning together, and the root verb ducere, meaning to lead. An experienced Latin student has a good chance of guessing the scientific meaning, which is a transfer of energy such as heat.

Insolation: From the Latin prefix in-, meaning on or against, and the Latin root sol, solis, meaning sun. Insolation means exposure to the sun's rays. Contrast it with insulation, from the Latin word for island (insula), in your next earth science lesson plan.

Meandering: This one has Greek roots. The Maeander river in Asia Minor is a slow and winding stream which lends its name to this English derivative meaning indirect or winding.

Tectonic: In Greek, a tekton is a carpenter and tektonikos means having to do with construction. Our word tectonic has to do with the construction of the surface plates of the earth's crust. In Latin, tectum is roof or covering.

Transpiration: From the Latin root verb spirare, to breath, and the Latin prefix trans, across. Transpiration describes the action of water passing from the roots of a plant, through the vascular system, and into the atmosphere.

Isolines: From a Greek root meaning equal, iso-, and a Latin root meaning line, linea. An isoline is a line on a map or chart connecting points of equal value.

Convection: From the Latin prefix con-, together, and the Latin verb veho, vehere, vexi, vectus, meaning to carry or bring. Convection describes the action of heat transfer as heating parts of a substance circulate and move.

Maritime: From the Latin noun mare, meaning sea; or from the Latin adjective maritimus, meaning coastal.

Glaciers: From the Latin word for ice, glacies.

Igneous: From the Latin word for fire, ignis. Igneous rock is formed from molten material. Create a science lesson plan based on the Latin root of the three major types of rock: Igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.

Intrusion: From the Latin prefix in-, meaning against, and the Latin verb trudo, trudere, trusi, trusus, meaning to push or thrust. In geology, an intrusion occurs when one kind of material is forced into another, such as molten rock into preexisting sedimentary rock.

Capillarity: From the Latin word for hair, capillus. Capillarity describes the surface tension of a liquid coming in contact with a solid. Think of a single strand of hair as it touches the surface of water, how the water will rise up to the edge of the solid strand of hair.

Oops! That's thirteen.

Teach these words and their Latin and Greek roots in your next earth science lesson plan.

By the way, here's the list of 57 vocabulary words and specialized earth science terms containing Latin or Greek roots. All of these vocabulary words can be found on this year's Earth Science Regents Exam:

luminosity, sequence, foci, elliptical, orbit, rotation, radiation, fusion, conduction, axis, capillarity, permeability, insolation, condensation, precipitation, transpiration, evaporation, isolines, latitude, longitude, solar, reflected, absorbs, vapor, constellation, tributaries, sediments, meandering, geographic, agent of erosion, igneous, intrusion, depositional, frictional, inference, illuminated, degrees, revolution, convection, tectonic, metamorphism, solidified, texture, composition, unconformity, metamorphic, altitude, maritime, tropical, sedimentary, glaciers, contour interval, atmosphere, velocity, orbital velocity, eclipse.

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