Initial Publication Date: July 14, 2014

Teaching Systems

This page was created in support of AGIs "Earth's Connected Systems", October 12 - 18, 2014.

Systems are inherently complex and learning about them promotes higher order thinking. Systems thinking involves assisting students in understanding how the lithosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere independently operate and how these systems influence each other. Encouraging students to think in terms of Earth's systems helps to unite concepts and helps students to understand the 'big picture' of why they are learning about the Earth.

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activities for K-12 students »

Which systems influence coral reef health?

Which of Earth's 'spheres' influence melting in Greenland?

What is this phenomenon and which Earth systems trigger it?

The carbon cycle is an interplay of which Earth 'spheres'?

Browse all Systems activities for K-12 students »

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Resources for Teaching about Systems

Go to /introgeo/earthsystem/nutshell/index.html
Earth System Science in a Nutshell: This Starting Point module describes what Earth System Science is and examines how shifting the educational paradigm to use this approach can yield significant gains in student learning.

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Teach Systems Thinking - This website is built around the idea that systems thinking is particularly well-suited to teaching about the complex challenges that lie at the intersection of Earth systems and human interactions. The InTeGrate project addresses topics such as climate change, energy, population dynamics and resource use, focusing on a systems-based, interdisciplinary approach.

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Earth System Science Unit Overview part of EarthLabs for Educators - This project has developed online units for a high school Earth science lab course that is scientifically rigorous and quantitative in order to address the perception of high school Earth science as being "not a real science" compared to biology, chemistry, and physics. The units cover Corals, Cryosphere, Drought, Earth Systems, Fisheries, and Hurricanes and consist of online and laboratory experiments, reading appropriate primary literature, and conducting web research.

Go to /NAGTWorkshops/complexsystems/index.html
Developing Student Understanding of Complex Systems in the Geosciences: Explore resources about developing students' understanding of complex systems, including promising pedagogical approaches, tips on assessment, activities, and course descriptions, and much more.

Go to /NAGTWorkshops/climatechange/index.html
Teaching Climate Change: This site will allow educators to locate and use the best resources for teaching about Earth's climate system and the changing climate over the past one million years. Here you will find climate data, visualizations, teaching activities and case studies.

Go to /microbelife/index.html
Microbial Life - Educational Resources: This site contains a variety of educational and supporting materials for students and teachers of microbiology. You will find information about microorganisms, extremophiles and extreme habitats, as well as links to online provides information about the ecology, diversity and evolution of micro-organisms for students, K-12 teachers, university faculty, and the general public.

Go to /NAGTWorkshops/health/index.html
Geology and Human Health: This site contains a variety of educational and supporting materials for educators teaching in the emerging field of geology and human health. You will find links to internet resources, books, teaching activities, and a group email list, as well as posters, presentations and discussions from a 2004 workshop.

Go to /research_education/nativelands/index.html
Impacts of Resource Development on Native American Lands: This collection contains an assortment of digital resources relevant to exploring Native American land and resource development by using investigative case studies. Resources considered include gold, uranium, coal, and water.

Go to /NZFires/index.html
Understanding Human Influence on Terrestrial Landscapes through Paleoecology: This project has developed resources about using paleoecology to understand how human-set fires have changed the environment. It includes a set of case studies written by students exploring megafires around the world, their causes and impacts.

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CLEAN - CLEAN's primary effort is to steward a collection of educational resources around energy and climate topics and foster a community that supports learning about climate and energy topics. CLEAN's focus has been to integrate the effective use of the educational resources across all grade levels – with a particular focus on the middle-school through undergraduate levels (grades 6-16).

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Resources from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers

The National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) works to foster improvement in the teaching of the Earth sciences at all levels of formal and informal instruction, to emphasize the cultural significance of the Earth sciences and to disseminate knowledge in this field to the general public. For more information about NAGT visit our web site. We encourage membership from all those who are engaged in the teaching of Earth science - join NAGT today!

NAGT Awards and Grant Opportunities

Outstanding Earth Science Teacher (OEST) awards are given for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Sciences at the pre-college level." Any teacher or other K-12 educator who covers a significant amount of earth science content with their students is eligible. For more information about the award and to submit a nomination visit the OEST Awards page.

Dorothy Stout Professional Development Grants
Dottie Stout was the first female president of NAGT and was active as a strong supporter of earth science education at all levels. In honor of Dottie's outstanding work and lifelong dedication to Earth Science Education, NAGT awards grants to faculty and students at 2 year colleges and K-12 teachers in support of the following:

  • Participation in Earth science classes or workshops
  • Attendance at professional scientific or science education meetings
  • Participation in Earth science field trips
  • Purchase of Earth science materials for classroom use
Grants of $750 will be made annually in three categories: Community College Faculty, Community College Student, and K-12 Educator. For more information about the award visit the Stout Grants page.