Earth Science may not always get the respect it deserves, but this broad discipline is profoundly important. Understanding the basic geophysical processes is essential to placing biological systems—including those enveloping and influenced by humankind—in their proper context. It’s important to show students that rivers, mountains, rainstorms, and other elements of the landscape aren’t just backdrop scenery, but actors in one all-encompassing play that every one of us human beings also has a role in.
Earth Science: Helping Students Understand Change & Impact
The mighty cycles that bind together the living and non-living components of the Earth—the nitrogen cycle, the carbon cycle, the water cycle, and the like—suggest a unity among the global ecosystem and the real connections between people and their environment. Here are angles you can use to inspire students to learn more about the earth and all its natural processes:
We’re Still Learning: We Need Future Scientists
Our understanding of our planet is far from static. Consider the interplay of ocean and atmosphere through global scale dynamics like the El Niño-Southern Oscillation; the patterns and processes of hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters; There’s a staggering amount about the basic function of the Earth that we don’t know, and new generations of scientists—including some of those bright and shining faces in your classroom—will help parse out the details for the benefit of all of humanity. How’s that for some exciting stakes?
Highlighting Tangible Examples
Fortunately, Earth Science educators have the ability to link tangible (and intrinsically fascinating) phenomena that students experience every day to the curriculum at hand. Pull up the classroom window shades, and there are clouds floating by: clear examples of daily weather processes, sure, but also springboards for a discussion of how the hydrological cycle connects atmospheric heights with the depths of the ocean, and—thanks to the recycling of water across the ages—some long-ago mammoth quenching its thirst at a snowmelt pond.
The shift of the sun’s angle and course across the playground, the backstory of the pebble picked up on the walk to school, the journey of a raindrop on the rooftop, the soil horizons beneath the lawn—opportunities for hands-on engagement with geophysical processes aren’t hard to come by. That’s especially true when you consider all of the equipment and supplies available to make learning the ins-and-outs of Earth Science (and so many other subjects) all the more fun and dynamic.
More Science Educator Ideas & Inspiration
If we can channel the innate awe a child feels toward the Earth—thunderstorms, volcanic eruptions, rainbows, waterfalls, dinosaurs, tigers, etc.—into real enthusiasm for Earth Science studies, we can inspire the next generation to protect the planet and tackle very real environmental issues. And that’s a task that any teacher can get excited about!
Check out the other blogs on the STEAM/STEM topic page to find more information and ideas and to get your students fired up about science and its importance in making our world a great place to be. Don’t forget to stop by the online store to see hundreds of exciting and innovative science education products and materials that you can use in your science learning space.