Page prepared for SERC by Rebecca Dodge of the University of West Georgia.

Life and Earth Science

Rebecca L. Dodge

University of West Georgia

Course Type:
Earth System Science

Course Size:

Course Summary

This course employs an integrative, interdisciplinary approach to the study of life and earth science. It introduces basic concepts and key ideas while providing opportunities for students to learn reasoning skills and a new way of thinking about their environment. The laboratory component of the course allows students to have inquiry-based hands-on experience with scientific ideas and principles, tied to state performance standards. The course is part of the Core curriculum at the State University of West Georgia.

For Dr. Dodge's reflections on the course and its design, see Life and Earth Science: Role in the Program.

Course Context:

This course is required for all pre-service Early Childhood Education majors. The class is usually around 150 students, and the 2-hour labs are capped at 24 students each. The prerequisites are College Algebra and one introductory-level Science course.

Course Goals:

LEARNING OUTCOMES - Earth Science half of course

After successful completion of this course, students should be able to:
  • Analyze an experiment in terms of the scientific method.
  • Interpret the properties of the Earth's internal layers in terms of changes with depth.
  • Evaluate geologic features within the context of plate tectonics.
  • Analyze and identify various types of minerals on the basis of their physical properties.
  • Evaluate igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks in terms of plate tectonic environments.
  • Predict the types of strain produced by the movement of tectonic plates and distinguish between folds and faults.
  • Analyze the hydrologic cycle as it relates to global energy redistribution.
  • Interpret the physical processes that elevate and/or reduce the Earth's surface.
  • Analyze how weather and climate are related.
  • Analyze how solar radiation, atmospheric pressure, ocean currents, and the distribution of land and water contribute to weather.
  • Formulate a time scale that relates Earth's history to changes in assemblages through time.
  • Analyze how the evolution of our solar system influenced the divergent properties of the inner and outer planets.
  • Evaluate how the size of a star influences the life cycle of a star.
  • Formulate an explanation of the Big Bang Theory based on observed physical properties of the Universe.

Course Content:

Both Earth and Life Science content are covered in the class and the lab elements of the course. The textbook emphasizes interdisciplinary connections, and the instructors emphasize an Earth Systems perspective. The laboratory is designed to provide the students with grade-level-appropriate hands-on, inquiry-based experiences tied to state performance standards.

The Earth Science half of the class and laboratory cover both Earth and Space Science content.

Teaching Materials:

Syllabus (Microsoft Word 61kB Apr19 07)

For an example activity from this course, see Exploring the Solar System, the Galaxies, and the Universe with the Hubble Space Telescope.


  • Pre and post testing of knowledge of basic concepts
  • In-class quizzes
  • In-class tests
  • Pre-laboratory online exercises
  • Laboratory Exercises
  • Laboratory tests

References and Notes:

Hewitt, Paul, Suzanne Lyons, John Suchocki, and Jennifer Yeh. 2006. Conceptual Integrated Science, 1st edition.

Additional resources such as web sites under development - this is a new class that will be taught in Fall 2007 for the first time.