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Lessons for Earth Science Standards (Appendix E.)

Appendix E. Earth Science Standards (LINKS to Examples)


ESS1 Earth’s Place in the Universe

ESS1. A The Universe And Its Stars

K-2 Patterns of movement of the sun, moon, and stars as seen from Earth can be observed, described, and predicted.

3-5 Stars range greatly in size and distance from Earth and this can explain their relative brightness.

6-8 The solar system is part of the Milky Way, which is one of many billions of galaxies.

9-12 Light spectra from stars are used to determine their characteristics, processes, and lifecycles. Solar activity creates the elements through nuclear fusion. The development of technologies has provided the astronomical data that provide the empirical evidence for the Big Bang theory.

     Phases of the Moon

     Phases of the Moon Short Answer Quiz

     The Solar System

     The Solar System Short Answer Quiz

    Solar System Coloring Page

     What is a Star?

        The Sun

     What is Electromagnetic Radiation?

     What is the Big Bang Theory?

    What was Henritta Swan Leavitt's Discovery?

     What are Pulsars?

     What is a Galaxy?

     Milk Way Galaxy


ESS1. B Earth And The Solar System

3-5 The Earth’s orbit and rotation, and the orbit of the moon around the Earth cause observable patterns.

6-8 The solar system contains many varied objects held together by gravity. Solar system models explain and predict eclipses, lunar phases, and seasons.

9-12 Kepler’s laws describe common features of the motions of orbiting objects. Observations from astronomy and space probes provide evidence for explanations of solar system formation. Changes in Earth’s tilt and orbit cause climate changes such as Ice Ages.

    Changing Seasons and the Earth's Tilt

    Changing Seasons Short Answer Quiz

    Learn about Each Planet

    The Planet Chart

    The Plants Matching Quiz

    What is a Supernova?


ESS1. C The History Of Planet Earth

K-2 Some events on Earth occur very quickly; others can occur very slowly.

3-5 Certain features on Earth can be used to order events that have occurred in a landscape.

6-8 Rock strata and the fossil record can be used as evidence to organize the relative occurrence of major historical events in Earth’s history.

9-12 The rock record resulting from tectonic and other geoscience processes as well as objects from the solar system can provide evidence of Earth’s early history and the relative ages of major geologic formations.    

   The Rock Cycle

     Rock ID Activity  


ESS2 Earth’s Systems

ESS2. A Earth Materials And Systems

K-2 Wind and water change the shape of the land.

3-5 Four major Earth systems interact. Rainfall helps to shape the land and affects the types of living things found in a region. Water, ice, wind, organisms, and gravity break rocks, soils, and sediments into smaller pieces and move them around.

6-8 Energy flows and matter cycles within and among Earth’s systems, including the sun and Earth’s interior as primary energy sources. Plate tectonics is one result of these processes.

9-12 Feedback effects exist within and among Earth’s systems.

     The Water Cycle

     The Rock Cycle

    Nutrient Cycling on Earth  


ESS2. B Plate Tectonics And Large-Scale System Interactions

K-2 Maps show where things are located. One can map the shapes and kinds of land and water in any area.

3-5 Earth’s physical features occur in patterns, as do earthquakes and volcanoes. Maps can be used to locate features and determine patterns in those events.

6-8 Plate tectonics is the unifying theory that explains movements of rocks at Earth’s surface and geological history. Maps are used to display evidence of plate movement.

9-12 Radioactive decay within Earth’s interior contributes to thermal convection in the mantle.

ESS2.C The Roles Of Water In Earth’s Surface Processes

K-2 Water is found in many types of places and in different forms on Earth.

3-5 Most of Earth’s water is in the ocean and much of the Earth’s fresh water is in glaciers or underground.

6-8 Water cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere, and is propelled by sunlight and gravity. Density variations of seawater drive interconnected ocean currents. Water movement causes weathering and erosion, changing landscape features.

9-12 The planet’s dynamics are greatly influenced by water’s unique chemical and physical properties.

     The Water Cycle

     Erosion Activity

      Ocean Ecology


ESS2.D Weather And Climate

K-2 Weather is the combination of sunlight, wind, snow or rain, and temperature in a particular region and time. People record weather patterns over time.

3-5 Climate describes patterns of typical weather conditions over different scales and variations. Historical weather patterns can be analyzed.

6-8 Complex interactions determine local weather patterns and influence climate, including the role of the ocean. The planet’s dynamics are greatly influenced by water’s unique chemical and physical properties.

9-12 The role of radiation from the sun and its interactions with the atmosphere, ocean, and land are the foundation for the global climate system. Global climate models are used to predict future changes, including changes influenced by human behavior and natural factors.


    Greenhouse Effect

   Climate Change


ESS2.E Biogeology

K-2 Plants and animals can change their local environment.

3-5 Living things can affect the physical characteristics of their environment.

6-8 The fossil record documents the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of many life forms and their environments through Earth’s history. The fossil record and comparisons of anatomical similarities between organisms enables the inference of lines of evolutionary descent. (LS4.A) Changes in biodiversity can influence humans’ resources and ecosystem services they rely on. (LS4.D)

9-12 The biosphere and Earth’s other systems have many interconnections that cause a continual co-evolution of Earth’s surface and life on it.

     Keystone Species - Sea Otter

     Keystone Species - Sharks

     Keystone Species - The African Elephant

    Keystone Species - The American Alligator


     Endangered Species on Private Land

     Pollination and Seed Dispersal


ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

ESS3.A Natural Resources

K-2 Living things need water, air, and resources from the land, and they live in places that have the things they need. Humans use natural resources for everything they do.

3-5 Energy and fuels humans use are derived from natural sources and their use affects the environment. Some resources are renewable over time, others are not.

6-8 Humans depend on Earth’s land, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere for different resources, many of which are limited or not renewable. Resources are distributed unevenly around the planet as a result of past geologic processes.

9-12 Resource availability has guided the development of human society and use of natural resources has associated costs, risks, and benefits.

     Nutrient Cycling on Earth

    Over-fishing the Oceans

    Acid Rain



    Climate Change

    Habitat Loss

    Ocean Pollution

    The Importance of Wetlands


ESS3.B Natural Hazards

K-2 In a region, some kinds of severe weather are more likely than others. Forecasts allow communities to prepare for severe weather.

3-4 A variety of hazards result from natural processes; humans cannot eliminate hazards but can reduce their impacts.

6-8 Mapping the history of natural hazards in a region and understanding related geological forces.

Natural hazards and other geological events have shaped the course of human history at local, regional, and global scales.

9-12 Natural hazards and other geological events have shaped the course of human history at local, regional, and global scales.




     Winter Storms


ESS3.C Human Impacts on Earth Systems

K-2 Things people do can affect the environment but they can make choices to reduce their impacts.

3-5 Societal activities have had major effects on the land, ocean, atmosphere, and even outer space. Societal activities can also help protect Earth’s resources and environments.

6-8 Human activities have altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging it, although changes to environments can have different impacts for different living things. Activities and technologies can be engineered to reduce people’s impacts on Earth.

9-12 Sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources, including the development of technologies.

   Endangered Species on Private Land

   Engangered Species Success Story

   Over-fishing the Oceans

   How Animals Go Extinct

   Poaching of Endangered Animals


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