Earth Systems Science: Introduction

Learning Outcomes/Goals
Earth Systems Science: Introduction
The Earth Systems Science track is designed to ensure that students will:
Be effective communicators of scientific information in written, oral, graphical, and spatial
Understand the nature and ethical principles of scientific inquiry, including experimental design,
implementation, and interpretation of scientific data in the context of earth science
Apply principles from complementary disciplines (mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology)
to solve earth science problems.
Understand the consideration of Earth as a system, including Earth-sun relations and
relationships among Earth's subsystems.
Be familiar with the overall structure and composition of the Earth system.
Understand processes that form Earth materials and shape the landscape.
Recognize the enormousness of geological time and identify major evolutionary events since
Earth's formation.
Develop a scientific understanding of interactions between humans and Earth, including
geological hazards, global environmental issues, and use and conservation of Earth's resources.
Students will achieve these objectives through developing essential skills and mastery of relevant
content knowledge, as outlined below.
Earth Systems Science: Skills
A. Communication Students will demonstrate effective communication via:
1. oral presentations
2. scientific manuscripts
3. collaboration with other students
B. Scientific Inquiry Students will:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the scientific method and the role of observation and
experimentation in science.
2. Understand the processes of gathering, organizing, reporting, and interpreting scientific
data in the context of earth science investigations.
3. Integrate principles of physics, chemistry, and biology to answer geosciences questions.
4. Understand the ethical principles related to scientific inquiry and demonstrate
professional standards in reporting research results.
5. Critically and logically analyze competing ideas, and distinguish between scientific and
non-scientific approaches to solving problems.
C. Quantitative, analytical and mapping skills
1. Apply mathematical principles to quantitatively interpret geoscience data.
Learning Outcomes/Goals
2. Use common software (e.g., Excel) to organize and graphically present data.
3. Construct and interpret geological maps.
4. Conduct spatial analysis in a GIS environment
Earth Systems Science: Content Knowledge
Students will understand:
A. Earth as a System Students will understand:
1. Relationships among lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere in shaping
2. Earth-sun relationships, including reasons for seasons
3. Energy transfer in the Earth system, such as Earth's energy budget, atmospheric
composition and circulation, and ocean circulation
B. Earth Materials and Structure Students will understand:
1. Processes of mineral and rock formation
2. Characteristics of different types of minerals and rocks
3. Methods used to identify and classify minerals and rocks
4. Structure and composition of Earth's interior, surface, and atmosphere
C. Earth System Processes Students will understand:
1. Constructional forces that have shaped Earth's surface (e.g., plate tectonics), theories
and evidence of crustal movements, and the effects of crustal movements on Earth's
2. Erosional-depositional processes that change Earth's surface (e.g., weathering, erosion)
and the relationship between these processes and landscape development.
3. Processes by which water moves on, above, and beneath Earth's surface.
4. Ocean-atmosphere-lithosphere interactions, particularly related to climate.
D. Earth history Students will understand:
1. Geological time, including its subdivisions and its measurement
2. Earth's physical evolution through geologic time, including formation of the solar system
3. Evolution of life forms as evidenced from the fossil record
4. Natural climate changes (e.g., glaciations) caused by Earth's orbital geometry
E. Societal significance and human stewardship Students will:
1. Recognize society's dependence on Earth resources (e.g., mineral, rock resources, soil,
and water resources; fossil fuels)
2. Understand natural hazards related to geological processes
3. Develop a scientific understanding of the effect of human activity on Earth's natural
processes (e.g., global warming, ozone depletion, air pollution, water pollution)