2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)
Paper No. 278-4
Presentation Time: 2:40 PM-3:00 PM

FOREST FOR THE TREES: EARTH SYSTEMS SCIENCE LITERACY INITIATIVES AND THE NEED FOR A SMALLER INTEGRATED SET OF PRINCIPLES

DUGGAN-HAAS, Don, Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, dad55@cornell.edu and CLARK, Scott K., Geological Sciences, Michigan State University, 206 Natural Science Building, East Lansing, MI 48824

Critical to developing broad Earth systems science literacy is the synthesis of a concise list of principles that are essential to understanding the Earth. Recent community-based initiatives have yielded a set of four, well-defined lists of essential principles for scientific literacy in a number of Earth-relevant domains: atmospheric science, climate, Earth science, and oceanography. Given that these domains are interrelated, with overlap in concepts and processes, we feel that it is constructive to derive a concise, integrated Earth Systems Science list that reduces the current, combined number of 31 essential principles and 198 supporting concepts to a set of 5 to 11 essential principles, with this smaller set maintaining the intent of the current lists. A concise list of these principles will readily fit within a broader set of all-inclusive science education curricula standards, and is more likely to be adopted by educators. We will present two versions of synthesized lists of essential principles for Earth System Sciences. We independently generated the lists, one using an ab initio approach and the other from a content analysis of the four published sets of essential principles.

“What is vital for all Americans to understand about Earth?” The ab initio approach began out of frustration with the typical failure of students and teachers alike to answer this question coherently. Processing the question with teacher candidates, teachers and scientists over many years led to a set of five big ideas coupled with two big questions that colligate the literacy principles. See: virtualfieldwork.org.

In the content analysis approach, a set of 11 holistic essential principles emerged, followed by an intuitive binning of these principles into 5 overarching categories: the nature of science, matter and energy fluxes, humanity and nature, life, and deep time and space. The intent of the original principles was maintained as much as possible to respect the integrity of the prior, community-based efforts.

These approaches yield very similar lists that successfully subsume all underlying concepts and place them into manageable conceptual frameworks. We present these to the community not as definitive statements, but rather as an initiation into the next step of making the essential principles more accessible to the wider public.

2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 278
Promoting Literacy about Earth System Science Concepts
Oregon Convention Center: C123
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 41, No. 7, p. 712

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