DCI in Earth and Space

Table of Contents

Table 1 lists the core ideas in Earth and Space Science, as well as the defining questions for each Earth and space science DCI. See the framework for more examples and grade band endpoints or the NGSS website for further information.

Table 1. Disciplinary Core Ideas in Earth and Space Science
Core Idea Defining Question

ESS1: Earth’s Place in the Universe

What is the universe, and what is Earth’s place in it?
ESS1.A: The Universe and Its Stars What is the universe, and what goes on in stars?
ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System What are the predictable patterns caused by Earth’s movement in the solar system?
ESS1.C: The History of Planet Earth How do people reconstruct and date events in Earth’s planetary history?
ESS2: Earth’s Systems How and why is the earth constantly changing?
ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems How do the major earth systems interact?
ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions Why do the continents move, and what causes earthquakes and volcanoes?
ESS2.C: The Roles of Water in Earth’s Surface Processes How do the properties and movements of water shape Earth’s surface and affect its systems?
ESS2.D: Weather and Climate What regulates weather and climate?
ESS2.E: Biogeology How do living organisms alter Earth’s processes and structures?
ESS3: Earth and Human Activity How do Earth’s surface processes and human activities affect each other?
ESS3.A: Natural Resources How do humans depend on Earth’s resources?
ESS3.B: Natural Hazards How do natural hazards affect individuals and societies?
ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems How do humans change the planet?
ESS3.D: Global Climate Change How do people model and predict the effects of human activities on Earth’s climate?

Disciplinary Core Ideas in Earth and Space Science

Earth and space sciences examine processes on Earth and compare them to processes elsewhere in the solar system and galaxy. The earth and space sciences often draw on physical and life sciences, and much of Earth and space science is interdisciplinary. Geology is used to understand the past and present of the earth and other celestial bodies. On Earth, scientists seek to understand the interconnected systems that drive the cycling of materials and energy and cause change over time. In Earth and space sciences, the framework emphasizes interconnections at many scales.



Image caption

Fig. 1. A snorkeler cuts an entangled turtle free of fishing net in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Image copyright and source

Image courtesy of Kyle Koyanagi from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

One Earth system, the hydrosphere, encompasses the ocean and freshwater systems on Earth. This system interacts with other large-scale Earth systems, including the atmosphere, the geosphere, and the biosphere. Water from the hydrosphere cycles through and shapes the other Earth systems, bringing with it matter and energy. The ocean is closely tied to weather and climate, including global climate change. The ocean and freshwater bodies also provide many natural resources and are especially vulnerable to human impact. For example, marine debris is waste that has accidentally or purposefully been released into the ocean. Marine debris can include fishing nets and gear, plastics bags, bottles, and other garbage that has made its way into the ocean. Marine debris can entangle organisms (Fig. 1), be mistakenly consumed by animals, or poison organisms with toxic chemicals.


Activities and Special Features Aligned With Core Ideas in Earth and Space

ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems

ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions

ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

ESS2.E: Biogeology

ESS3.B: Natural Hazards

ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems

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