Teacher Preparation > Supporting Preservice Teachers > Browse Teacher Preparation Courses > Minnesota State University, Mankato: Earth & Space Systems

Earth & Space Systems

Course Type:
Capstone Course for Pre-Service Secondary Science & Elementary Educators Concentrating in Science

Course Size:
Lecture/Lab 22/22

Course Summary
MSU Students Examine Cretaceous Clay Atop Archean Morton Gneiss

Earth & Space Systems prepares future teachers of science to understand our multidisciplinary world by breaking down the traditional barriers between fields and viewing the observable world holistically. Advanced principles of chemistry, geology and climatology are applied to observable earth science phenomenon to explain the structure and evolution of earth and the other bodies of the solar system. Principles of physics and chemistry normally reserved for the laboratory are used to investigate and explain the structure of the atmosphere and nature of mineral deposits such as banded iron formations. The pre-service teachers also examine practical methods to deal with contentious issues such as the geologic time scale and conflicting cultural explanations for geologic features as they prepare to teach science to the full diversity of students they are charged to serve. The course meets for 5 hours/week of lecture/lab combination in various time formats.

For Dr. Moosavi's reflections on the course and its design, see Earth & Space Systems: Role in the Program.

Course Context:

This is the last general science content course before student teaching and requires pre-existing study in geology, astronomy, and chemistry with introductory physics as a pre or co-requisite. The course focuses on connecting specific science content with tie ins to pedagogy as appropriate. Due to the diversity of somewhat disconnected topics placed in this course, the theme of understanding earth as a system was adopted to provide structure for the course with in-depth examination of the specific content areas as they apply to the earth system.

Course Goals:

This course serves as the capstone course in earth and space science content.
  1. Upper level content is introduced within geology, geography, astronomy and chemistry.
  2. The course models integrating the sciences in the K-12 curriculum.
  3. The course introduces Earth System Science from atomic to interplanetary scales.
  4. It enables field examination of fundamental geological structures supporting plate tectonic theory going back over 3 billion years.
  5. The pre-service teachers are prepared for diverse perspectives and belief systems in the modern science classroom.
  6. Content is connected to relevent pedagogical techniques

Course Content:

This course combines specific advanced Earth and space science content with pedagogical models for its conveyance. Clinical work with K-12 students is NOT an element of this course. A full listing of topics is available by field:

Teaching Materials:

Materials available for this course on this web site include:


Assessment in this course is focused on hands-on projects which demonstrate mastery of specific content. Quizzes ask students to apply content knowledge to specific real world cases. A field exam requires students to a correctly analyze rock outcrops, geologic history and active geologic processes in a location a teacher might use for a K-12 field trip.

References and Notes:

The course is set up specifically to complete student fulfillment of MN teaching licensure requirements for science competencies in geology, geography, astronomy, chemistry and physics as taught at Minnesota State University-Mankato. Specific competencies addressed in introductory courses in these fields do not appear in this course. The earth system approach is applicable to other universities and state certification sytems but would be fine tuned differently than this unique course.