Page prepared for SERC by Lydia K. Fox of the University of the Pacific.

Earth System Science

Lydia K. Fox

University of the Pacific

Course Type:
Earth System Science

Course Size:

Course Summary

An introduction to the study of the Earth using a systems approach. The focus will be on the subsystems (geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere) and the dynamic interactions between them. The approach will be to develop an understanding of the balance that exists in the global environment as a result of the interactions between the systems. The course begins with a study of the Earth relative to the rest of the solar system, continues to a study of the various Earth systems and processes (plate tectonics, earthquakes, weather, oceans, etc.), and end with a study of global climate change.

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

Course Context:

This is an introductory lab course with no prequisites. The course was designed for pre-service teachers but also satifies the General Education Lab Science requirement for all students. Generally 75% of the students are pre-service K-8 teachers. The course includes 3 80-minute lectures and a two-hour lab per week along with a required field trip during the semester.

Course Content:

This courese provides an introduction to the Earth System. There is an emphasis on the Geosphere but topics in oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy are covered as well. The labs are hands-on and, for the most part, can be modified for use at the K-8 level (the equipment used can generally be obtained locally). Labs focus on observation and interpretaion. The field trips involve studetns applying skills they have learned in class/lab to make interpretaions.

Teaching Materials:

Syllabus (Microsoft Word 68kB Apr25 07)

For an example activity from this class, see Course Journal.


in-class exams weekly lab exercises course journal in-class presentations (e.g. volcano research project)

References and Notes:

I have been using The Blue Planet but got frustrated that it had not been updated to include information on recent geologic events. This year I am using Thompson/Turk Earth Science and the Environment.