for many concepts associated with earth and space science, it is important to maintain the spirit of inquiry by focusing the teaching on questions that can be answered by using observational data, the knowledge base of science, and processes of reasoning.

Guide to the Content Standard

Fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include

ENERGY IN THE EARTH SYSTEM

[See content Standard B (grades 9-12)]

  • Earth systems have internal and external sources of energy, both of which create heat. The sun is the major external source of energy. Two primary sources of internal energy are the decay of radioactive isotopes and the gravitational energy from the earth's original formation.

  • The outward transfer of earth's internal heat drives convection circulation in the mantle that propels the plates comprising earth's surface across the face of the globe.

  • Heating of earth's surface and atmosphere by the sun drives convection within the atmosphere and oceans, producing winds and ocean currents.

  • Global climate is determined by energy transfer from the sun at and near the earth's surface. This energy transfer is influenced by dynamic processes such as cloud cover and the earth's rotation, and static conditions such as the position of mountain ranges and oceans.

GEOCHEMICAL CYCLES

  • The earth is a system containing essentially a fixed amount of each stable chemical atom or element. Each element can exist in several different chemical reservoirs. Each element on earth moves among reservoirs in the solid earth, oceans, atmosphere, and organisms as part of geochemical cycles.

  • Movement of matter between reservoirs is driven by the earth's internal and external sources of energy. These movements are often accompanied by a change in the physical and chemical properties of the matter. Carbon, for example, occurs in carbonate rocks such as limestone, in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas, in water as dissolved carbon dioxide, and in all organisms as complex molecules that control the chemistry of life.

It is important to maintain the spirit of inquiry by focusing the teaching on questions that can be answered by using observational data, the knowledge base of science, and processes of reasoning.

THE ORIGIN AND EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH SYSTEM

  • The sun, the earth, and the rest of the solar system formed from a nebular cloud of dust and gas 4.6 billion years ago. The early earth was very different from the planet we live on today.

  • Geologic time can be estimated by observing rock sequences and using fossils to correlate the sequences at various locations. Current methods include using the known decay rates of radioactive isotopes present in rocks to measure the time since the rock was formed.

  • Interactions among the solid earth, the oceans, the atmosphere, and organisms have resulted in the ongoing evolution of



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