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Earth Science Core

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Life and physical science content are integrated in a curriculum with two primary goals: (1) students will value and use science as a process of obtaining knowledge based on observable evidence, and (2) students’ curiosity will be sustained as they develop the abilities associated with scientific inquiry. This course builds upon students’ experience with integrated science in grades seven and eight and is the springboard course for success in biology, chemistry, geology, and physics.

Theme
The theme for Earth Science is systems. The “Benchmarks” in the Earth Science Core emphasize “systems” as an organizing concept to understand life on Earth, geological change, and the interaction of atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Earth Science provides students with an understanding of how the parts of a system through the study of the Earth’s cycles and spheres. Earth’s place in the universe as well its internal structure, tectonic plates, atmospheric processes, and hydrosphere are explored to help understand how Earth science interacts with society.

Inquiry
Throughout this course students experience science as a way of knowing based on making observations, gathering data, designing experiments, making inferences, drawing conclusions, and communicating results. Students see that the science concepts apply to their lives and their society. This course will provide students with science skills to make informed and responsible decisions. Students will learn how to explain cosmic and global phenomena in terms of interactions of energy, matter, and life. These explorations range from the realization that all elements heavier than helium were made in stars to an understanding of how rain influences a desert ecosystem. Throughout the course, the instructor should reference the evidence that scientists used to reach their conclusions (hypotheses, theories, etc.). The students should be able to answer the question “How do we know?”.

Good science instruction requires hands-on science investigations in which student inquiry is an important goal. Teachers should provide opportunities for all students to experience many things. Students in Earth Science should design and perform experiments and value inquiry as the fundamental scientific process. They should be encouraged to maintain an open and questioning mind to pose their own questions about objects, events, processes, and results. They should have the opportunity to plan and conduct their own experiments, and come to their own conclusions as they read, observe, compare, describe, infer, and draw conclusions. The results of their experiments need to be compared for reasonableness to multiple sources of information. It is important for students at this age to begin to formalize the processes of science and be able to identify the variables in an experiment.

 

The Most Important Goal
science instruction engages students in enjoyable learning experiences. Science instruction should be as thrilling an experience for a student as opening a rock and seeing a fossil, determining the quality of a water sample by watching the colors change in a chemical reaction, or observing the consistent sequence of color in a rainbow. Science is not just for those who have traditionally succeeded in the subject, and it is not just for those who will choose science-related careers. In a world of rapidly expanding knowledge and technology, all students must gain the skills they will need to understand and function responsibly and successfully in the world. The Core encourages instruction that provides skills in a context that enables students to experience the joy of doing science.

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