the processes of radiation, convection, and conduction transfer energy through the earth system.
In studying the evolution of the earth system over geologic time, students develop a deeper understanding of the evidence, first introduced in grades 5-8, of earth's past and unravel the interconnected story of earth's dynamic crust, fluctuating climate, and evolving life forms. The students' studies develop the concept of the earth system existing in a state of dynamic equilibrium. They will discover that while certain properties of the earth system may fluctuate on short or long time scales, the earth system will generally stay within a certain narrow range for millions of years. This long-term stability can be understood through the working of planetary geochemical cycles and the feedback processes that help to maintain or modify those cycles.
As an example of this long-term stability, students find that the geologic record suggests that the global temperature has fluctuated within a relatively narrow range, one that has been narrow enough to enable life to survive and evolve for over three billion years. They come to understand that some of the small temperature fluctuations have produced what we perceive as dramatic effects in the earth system, such as the ice ages and the extinction of entire species. They explore the regulation of earth's global temperature by the water and carbon cycles. Using this background, students can examine environmental changes occurring today and make predictions about future temperature fluctuations in the earth system.
Looking outward into deep space and deep time, astronomers have shown that we live in a vast and ancient universe. Scientists assume that the laws of matter are the same in all parts of the universe and over billions
. . . as many as half will need concrete examples and considerable help in following the multistep logic necessary to develop the understandings described here.
of years. It is thus possible to understand the structure and evolution of the universe through laboratory experiments and current observations of events and phenomena in the universe.
Until this grade level, astronomy has been largely restricted to the behavior of objects in the solar system. In grades 9-12, the study of the universe becomes more abstract as students expand their ability to comprehend large distances, long time scales, and the nature of nuclear reactions. The age of the universe and its evolution into galaxies, stars, and planets—and eventually life on earth—fascinates and challenges students.
The challenge of helping students learn the content of this standard will be to present understandable evidence from sources that range over immense timescales—and from studies of the earth's interior to observations from outer space. Many students are capable of doing this kind of thinking, but as many as half will need concrete examples and considerable help in following the multistep logic necessary to develop the understandings described in this standard. Because direct experimentation is usually not possible