North-Central Section - 39th Annual Meeting (May 19–20, 2005)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 1:20 PM-5:20 PM


RUTHERFORD, Sandra Lynn, Geography and Geology, Eastern Michigan Univ, 205 Strong Hall, Ypsilanti, MI 48197,

Imagine 24 Earth System Science Columns in the back of a classroom, each column different. This is a great project to generate enthusiasm in students, parents, and administrators. The inherent variation designed into this project allows students to observe different outcomes and interactions within one type of system – the earth. Team and class discussions are often generated as to “why” the columns display different features. For instance, why are all the fish in one column dead, while another column has healthy fish that have reproduced? This project is easily woven into the unit on the hydrosphere and can be used to explore, explain, and extend concepts that are traditionally addressed during the hydrosphere unit.

Although this project is reminiscent of those in other bottle biology publications, the Earth System Science Project serves to highlight earth science concepts and enables students to investigate the concepts of systems and the interaction between the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. The Earth System Science Project addresses the following National Science Education Standards; the ability and understanding of scientific inquiry, the structure of the earth system; energy in the earth system; and geochemical cycles.

After the column is built and as the data collection continues, other activities in the curriculum can be completed. For example acid rain worksheets and activities, water purification laboratories and food chain activities. These activities help the students to understand and explain phenomena by applying these concepts to the occurrences that they observe in their Earth System Science Column. The project concludes with a set of questions that incorporates several earth science as well as biological concepts. The project is fully described with ready-to-copy materials, including student handouts in table form and diagrams describing project construction.