Saturday, March 17, 2012

Earth System Science Project

Image courtesy of Microsoft Clipart
I've been pondering the idea of a comprehensive, collaborative science project in which students piece together all of the elements of the Earth system. I envision a giant interconnected, interdependent collage/infographic that weaves the myriad perspectives, voices, and creative talents of my students into one vision of what Earth science is all about...

Hear are a few broad guidelines and parameters for the project:

The Earth system is characterized by interactions among the following components:
  • atmosphere—the gaseous envelope surrounding Earth
  • hydrosphere—the liquid and ice water portions of Earth 
  • lithosphere (geosphere)—the solid portion of Earth
  • biosphere—the living portion of Earth

Matter and energy cycle among the living and nonliving components of the Earth system via different pathways and over varying amounts of time:
  • weather cycle and atmospheric circulation
  • climate cycle
  • carbon cycle
  • Earth’s energy budget
  • water cycle and oceanic circulation
  • rock cycle
  • weathering, erosion, and deposition
  • fossils and geologic time
  • plate tectonics
  • astronomical factors

Students will create the ultimate, illustrated Earth system mural/diagram showing:
  • the different components of the Earth system
  • the cycling of matter and energy throughout the Earth system
  • macro to micro interconnections among cycles of the Earth system
  • temporal/spatial fluxes across the Earth system
  • the contributions that people in different cultures and at different times in history have made to advance our understanding of the Earth system

Of course, one of the largest challenges is orchestrating such a project. I'm still puzzling over that part—maybe it could look like a giant puzzle...

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