descriptions, and finding patterns. Attempting to extend this understanding into explanations using models will be limited by the inability of young children to understand that earth is approximately spherical. They also have little understanding of gravity and usually have misconceptions about the properties of light that allow us to see objects such as the moon. (Although children will say that they live on a ball, probing questions will reveal that their thinking may be very different.)

Students can discover patterns of weather changes during the year by keeping a journal. Younger students can draw a daily weather picture based on what they see out a window or at recess; older students can make simple charts and graphs from data they collect at a simple school weather station.

Emphasis in grades K-4 should be on developing observation and description skills and the explanations based on observations. Younger children should be encouraged to talk about and draw what they see and think. Older students can keep journals, use instruments, and record their observations and measurements.

Guide to the Content Standard

Fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include

PROPERTIES OF EARTH MATERIALS

  • Earth materials are solid rocks and soils, water, and the gases of the atmosphere. The varied materials have different physical and chemical properties, which make them useful in different ways, for example, as building materials, as sources of fuel, or for growing the plants we use as food. Earth materials provide many of the resources that humans use.

  • Soils have properties of color and texture, capacity to retain water, and ability to support the growth of many kinds of plants, including those in our food supply.

  • Fossils provide evidence about the plants and animals that lived long ago and the nature of the environment at that time.

OBJECTS IN THE SKY

  • The sun, moon, stars, clouds, birds, and airplanes all have properties, locations, and movements that can be observed and described.

  • The sun provides the light and heat necessary to maintain the temperature of the earth.

CHANGES IN THE EARTH AND SKY

  • The surface of the earth changes. Some changes are due to slow processes, such as erosion and weathering, and some changes are due to rapid processes, such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.

  • Weather changes from day to day and over the seasons. Weather can be described by measurable quantities, such as temperature, wind direction and speed, and precipitation.

  • Objects in the sky have patterns of movement. The sun, for example, appears to move across the sky in the same way every day, but its path changes slowly over the seasons. The moon moves across the sky on a daily basis much like the sun. The observable shape of the moon changes from day to day in a cycle that lasts about a month.



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