There are many ways in which blog posts and other Earth Science Week materials can be used to address National Science Standards, AAAS Benchmarks for Scientific Literacy and English Language Arts Standards. For example, the three activities below, which can be used at any time during the week, illustrate the ease with which ESW materials can be aligned with the standard(s).
Have the students research, discuss and/or role play how a career of one of the Earth explorers featured on the poster or in the blog posts may have contributed to the knowledge – or will contribute to further knowledge – on a Benchmark topic.
For example, Chapter 4, Section 4C/E1 of the AAAS Benchmarks states that by the end of 5th grade a student should know that, “Waves, wind, water, and ice shape and reshape the earth's land surface by eroding rock and soil in some areas and depositing them in other areas, sometimes in seasonal layers.” Ask your students to investigate the answer to the question: How would an atmospheric scientist, computer programmer, chemist, engineer, geologist, meteorologist, and/or oceanographer have contributed to the knowledge represented by this benchmark?
How it aligns:
Because the focus of this question is careers and not the specific science content, it aligns well with Chapter 1, subsection 1C of the AAAS Benchmarks. This section, entitled The Scientific Enterprise, contains the following statement (condensed here):
“Career information can be introduced to acquaint students with science as an occupation in which there is a wide variety of different kinds and levels of work. Teachers should emphasize the diversity to be found in the scientific community: different kinds of people (in terms of race, sex, age, nationality) pursuing different sciences and working in different places (from isolated field sites to labs to offices). Students can learn that some scientists and engineers use huge instruments (e.g., particle accelerators or telescopes), and others use only notebooks and pencils. And most of all, students can begin to realize that doing science involves more than "scientists," and that many different occupations are part of the scientific enterprise…Teachers should continue to seize opportunities for introducing information on science as a diverse line of work. Above all, children in early adolescence need to see science and science-related careers as a real option for themselves personally.”
Note that there are also content Benchmarks directly related to the careers of Earth Explorers. They are found in Chapter 3 – The Nature of Technology, and Chapter 4 – The Physical Setting.
Investigate and discuss the connection between a current event and a career. Using NASA websites like earthobservatory.nasa.gov and climate.nasa.gov, have students select an Earth science-related article and identify the careers of the people featured in the article. Then have students read an article about a specific Earth explorer, or perhaps a blog post written by an Earth explorer in the same career featured on the Earth Science Week website. Ask students “What role would this career have played in this research or discovery? How did this career contribute? What other careers might have been involved?” Discussion could include such contributions as gathering data, analyzing data, making that data accessible to the public, or even using data (i.e. a forest ranger).
As a writing assignment, have students respond to the following prompts:
• If you could have your ideal career at NASA, what would you want to do and why?
• If you could job shadow one of these careers at NASA, which would you chose and why?
• Compare and contrast two Earth science careers.
• Design a project on which three of the featured careers would work together.
• You were awarded a large grant to study climate change in your geographic area. You can hire three Earth scientists to work on the grant. From the careers featured on the Earth Science Week website, which three Earth scientists would you hire and why?
Students can use articles or blog posts as research to help support their choices.
How these activities align:
Beyond the obvious alignment to those science standards listed in Activity #1 above, science careers are also a logical conduit for addressing certain Language Arts learning standards. The Earth Explorers careers are most easily integrated with those standards that focus on writing and non-fiction reading.
Have other ideas? Share them in the comments section below.