Session #4: Creating an Earth System I


This session begins with a look at the nature of science and then examines the natural interactions of spheres within the Earth Systems, focusing on volcanoes, ocean-atmosphere interactions, and uplift.

Jump to: Nature of Science | Interactions in the Earth System | Volcanoes in the Earth System |Hydrosphere-Atmosphere Interactions | Uplift of the Himalayas | Additional Resources

Stressing the Nature of Science: Dogs and Turnips

In this lesson students attempt to assemble a meaningful sentence by successively turning over cards with words on them. The point is made that we change our ideas of what a story may be as we gather more information. In addition, people who have similar information may not agree on its meaning. Science works this way.

Activity: Dogs and Turnips

Interactions in the Earth System

Teachers discussed some of the big ideas involved in the interactions of the Earth's system. These included scale, cycles, energy, and the impact of humans. This discussion was followed by a brainstorming activity focusing on how each of the spheres interacted with others.

Interactions in the Earth System

Volcanoes in the Earth System

Teachers were asked to draw a volcano and then make comparisons to volcanoes around the world. This was followed by excerpts from the video Volcanoes in the Earth System and a discussion as to how such a geospheric phenomenon influences the other spheres.

  1. Volcanoes in the Earth System

  2. Volcanoes
    The USGS provides some wonderful images and explanations of volcanoes and their impacts.

  3. Volcanoes!
    A set of activities

Hydrosphere-Atmosphere Interactions

Teachers discussed some of the big ideas involved in the interactions between the hydrosphere and atmosphere. These included the water cycle and weather patterns influenced by differential heating and cooling and El Niņo.

  1. Hydrosphere and the Water Cycle

  2. Activity: Differential Heating and Cooling
    Teachers compared rates of heating and cooling between sand and water and then compared their results to temperature patterns between land and oceans around the world.

  3. The Atmosphere

  4. Activity: Oceans and Climates
    By comparing monthly mean temperatures of two cities (one coastal and one inland), this activity illustrates the effect of the Gulf Stream on coastal and inland temperatures.

  5. El Niņo

Uplift of the Himalayas

Teachers discussed how the uplift of the Himalayas could impact the other spheres.

Uplift of the Himalayas

Activity: Ocean Drilling Core Samples: A Case Study
Adapted from the ODP: Mountains to Monsoons
An activity to test the hyposthesis: Uplift of Himalayas brought about the dramatic seasonal weather differences known as the monsoons of Asia. Illustrates the process of science and the use of multiple lines of evidence to piece together clues to past geologic events.

Additional Resources

California Science Content Standards

Bay Earth Science Institute website (go to resources)

Types of volcanoes - courtesy of the US Geological Survey and

Water Science for Schools
Information on many aspects of water, along with pictures, data, maps, and an interactive center where you can give opinions and test your water knowledge. Developed by the US Geological Survey.

Other recommended resources

Updated January 5, 2003

Home  |   What's new  |   About UCMP  |   History of Life  |   Collections  |   Subway

Copyright symbol