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Introduction to Patterns of Weathering and Earth's Features

ESS2: Earth's System:
How and why is Earth constantly changing?


ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems: How do Earth’s major systems interact?

Learning goals by the end of grade 5: Earth’s major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth’s surface materials and processes. The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate. Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the landforms to determine patterns of weather. Rainfall helps shape the land and affects the types of living things found in a region. Water, ice, wind, living organisms, and gravity break rocks, soils, and sediments into smaller particles and move them around. Human activities affect Earth’s systems and their interactions at its surface.


ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions: Why do the continents move, and what causes earthquakes and volcanoes?

Learning goals by the end of grade 5: The locations of mountain ranges, deep ocean trenches, ocean floor structures, earthquakes, and volcanoes occur in patterns. Most earthquakes and volcanoes occur in bands that are often along the boundaries between continents and oceans. Major mountain chains form inside continents or near their edges. Maps can help locate the different land and water features where people live and in other areas of Earth.


ESS2.E: Biogeology: How do living organisms alter Earth’s processes and structures?

Learning goals by the end of grade 5: Living things affect the physical characteristics of their regions (e.g., plants’ roots hold soil in place, beaver shelters and human-built dams alter the flow of water, plants’ respiration affects the air). Many types of rocks and minerals are formed from the remains of organisms or are altered by their activities.


Ocean Literacy Principles

Principle 1: The Earth has one big ocean with many features.

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: The ocean is the defining physical feature on our planet Earth—covering approximately 70% of the planet’s surface. There is one ocean with many ocean basins, such as the North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian, Southern, and Arctic. (OLP1a)


Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Ocean basins are composed of the seafloor and all of its geological features (such as islands, trenches, mid-ocean ridges, and rift valleys) and vary in size, shape and features due to the movement of Earth’s crust (lithosphere). Earth’s highest peaks, deepest valleys and flattest plains are all in the ocean.  (OLP1b)


Principle 2: The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth.

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Many earth materials and biogeochemical cycles originate in the ocean. Many of the sedimentary rocks now exposed on land were formed in the ocean. Ocean life laid down the vast volume of siliceous and carbonate rocks (OLP2a)


Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Erosion—the wearing away of rock, soil and other biotic and abiotic earth materials—occurs in coastal areas as wind, waves, and currents in rivers and the ocean, and the processes associated with plate tectonics move sediments. Most beach sand (tiny bits of animals, plants, rocks, and minerals) is eroded from land sources and carried to the coast by rivers; sand is also eroded from coastal sources by surf. Sand is redistributed seasonally by waves and coastal currents (OLP2c)


Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Tectonic activity, sea level changes, and the force of waves influence the physical structure and landforms of the coast. (OLP2e)


These concepts will be explored in this unit through the following activities and investigations:

Representative Image: 
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.