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Michael D. Eisner College of Education

California Science Project

Science 595g - Earth Systems Science for Science Teachers - 2011


Sessions at CSUN
June 22, June 29, July 6, July 13; (June 22 - July 29)
4:00 PM - 7:00 PM ED 2121B; 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Dr. Gerry Simila. gsimila@csun.edu; 1226 Live Oak; 677-3543
Dr. Norm Herr  norm.herr@csun.edu; 2103 Education; 677-2505


COURSE DESCRIPTION: Our objectives are to investigate the Earth's systems and “events” that occur and the associated effects.  In the phrase "Earth system science (ESS)," the key term is "system." A system is a collection of interdependent parts enclosed within a defined boundary. Within the boundary of the earth is a collection of four interdependent parts called "spheres." Earth's spheres include: the lithosphere, which contains all of the cold, hard, solid rock of the planet's crust (surface), the hot semi-solid rock that lies underneath the crust, the hot liquid rock near the center of the planet, and the solid iron core (center) of the planet; the hydrosphere, which contains all of the planet's solid, liquid, and gaseous water; the biosphere, which contains all of the planet's living organisms; and the atmosphere, which contains all of the planet's air.

Events can occur naturally, such as an earthquake or a hurricane, or they can be caused by humans, such as an oil spill or air pollution. An event can cause changes to occur in one or more of the spheres, and/or an event can be the effect of changes in one or more of Earth's four spheres. This two-way cause and effect relationship between an event and a sphere is called an interaction. Interactions also occur among the spheres; for example, a change in the atmosphere can cause a change in the hydrosphere, and vice versa.

Earth system science is conducted by examining each event-to-sphere, sphere-to-event, and sphere-to-sphere interaction. This approach is referred to as an "Earth system science analysis" or an "ESS analysis." We will conduct the ESS analysis for several events: Yellowstone fires, Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption, El Nino, etc.  We will use the strategy of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) which is an instructional methodology that uses real-world contexts for in-depth investigations of a subject matter.  Finally, we will discuss the applications of ESS for your own classroom and students.

Grading (plus/minus) Scale: A = 90+%, B = 80-89%, C = 70-79%, D = 50-69%, F = 0-49%.

Note: The Institute for Global Environmental Strategeis (IGES) will pay a stipend for up to six participating students ($75/module completed = $225 per student for the threemodules that you are pilot testing)


WEEK 1 (6/20-24)
Introduction, Logistics (G)
Earth System Science (ESS) and Analysis (G)
Problem Based Learning (PBL) Model/ Inquiry Strategies (N)
ESS Analysis of the Yellowstone Fires (G)
Student Wiki; Elluminate, etc (N)