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Framework For Earth Systems Education

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Understanding #1 Earth is Unique, a planet of rare beauty, and great value
Understanding #2 Human activities, collective and individual, conscious and inadvertent, affect Earth Systems.
Understanding #3 The development of scientific thinking and technology increases our ability to understand and utilize Earth and space.
Understanding #4  The Earth system is composed of the interacting subsystems of water, rock, ice, air and life.
Understanding #5 Earth is more than 4 billion years old and its subsystems are continually evolving.
Understanding #6 Earth is a small subsystem of s Solar system within the vast and ancient universe.
Understanding #7 There are many people with careers and interests that involve study of Earth's origin, processes, and evolution.

 

 

Earth Systems Science Understandings

Understanding #1: Earth is unique, a planet of rare beauty and great value.

       The beauty and value of Earth are expressed by and for people through literature and the arts.

       Human's appreciation of planet Earth is enhanced by a better understanding of its subsystems.

       Humans manifest their appreciation through their responsible behavior and stewardship of its subsystems.

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Understanding #2: Human activities, collective and individual, conscious and inadvertent, affect planet Earth.

       Earth is vulnerable, and its resources are limited and susceptible to overuse or misuse.

       Continued population growth accelerates the depletion of natural resources and destruction of the environment, including other species.

       When considering the use of natural resources, humans first need to rethink their Iifestyles, then reduce consumption, then reuse and recycle.

       By-products of industrialization pollute the air, land, and water, and the effects may be global as well as near the source.

       The better we understand Earth, the better we can manage our resources and reduce our impact on the environment worldwide.

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Understanding #3: The development of scientific thinking and technology increases our ability to understand and utilize Earth and space.

       Biologists, chemist, and physicists, as well as scientists from the Earth and space science disciplines, use a variety of methods in their study of Earth systems.

       Direct observation, simple tools, and modern technology are used to create, test and modify models and theories that represent, explain, and predict changes in the Earth system.

       Historical, descriptive, and empirical studies are important methods of learning about Earth and space.

       Scientific study may lead to technological advances.

       Regardless of sophistication, technology cannot be expected to solve all of our problems.

       The use of technology may have benefits as well as unintended side effects.

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Understanding #4: The Earth system is composed of interacting subsystems of water, rock, ice, air, and life.

       The subsystems are continuously changing through natural processes and cycles.

       Forces, motions and energy transformations drive the interactions within and between the subsystems.

       The Sun is the major external source of energy that drives most system and subsystem interactions at or near the Earth's surface.

       Each component of the Earth system has characteristic properties, structure, and composition that may be changed by interactions of subsystems.

       Plate tectonics is a theory that explains how internal forces and energy cause continual changes within Earth and on its surface. Weathering, erosion, and deposition continuously reshape the surface of the Earth.

       The presence of life affects the characteristics of other systems.

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Understanding #5: Planet Earth is more than 4 billion years old and its subsystems are continually evolving.

       Earth's cycles and natural processes take place over time intervals ranging from fractions of seconds to billions of years.

       Materials making up planet Earth have been recycled many times.

       Fossils provide the evidence that life has evolved interactively with Earth through geologic time.

       Evolution is a theory that explains how life has changed through time.

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Understanding #6: Earth is a small subsystem of a solar system within the vast and ancient universe.

       All material in the universe, including living organisms, appears to be composed of the same elements and to behave according to the same physical principles.

       All bodies in space, including Earth, are influenced by forces acting throughout the Solar System and the universe.

       Nine planets, including Earth, revolve around the sun in nearly circular orbits.

       Earth is a small planet, third from the Sun in the only system of planets definitely known to exist.

       The position and motions of Earth with respect to the Sun and Moon determine seasons, climates, and tidal changes.

       The rotation of Earth on its axis determines day and night.

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Understanding #7: There are many people with careers that involve study of Earth's origin, processes, and evolution.

       Teachers, scientists, and technicians who study Earth are employed by businesses, industries, government agencies, public and private institutions, and as independent contractors.

       Careers in the sciences that study Earth may include sample and data collection in the field and analyses and experiments in the laboratory.

       Scientists from many cultures throughout the world cooperate and collaborate using oral, written, and electronic means of communication.

       Some scientists and technicians who study Earth use their specialized understanding to locate resources or predict changes in Earth systems.

       Many people pursue avocations related to planet Earth processes and materials.

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This page was last updated on 11/21/02

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