Earth Science Benchmarks

What topics should be taught?

[Constructing and Reflecting] [Geosphere] [Hydrosphere] [Atmosphere & Weather] [Solar System]
What do you want students to:
know, do, be like?
How will you know if benchmarks have been achieved?
What possible instructional resources
could be used?
Geosphere: The Student will: Chapter Resources:

Field Trips:

  • Sewage Treatment Plant

IRC Activities: Check calendar frequently for new events.

Units of Practice:

Web Links

V.1.HS.1 Explain the surface features of the Great Lakes region using Ice Age theory.
2nd semester
need resources
  • Explain moraines and till, which are deposits of unsorted sediments
  • Explain glacial scratches (striations) left on bedrock
  • Explain kettle lakes: depressions in glacial deposits left by melting ice blocks, later filled with water
  • Explain parallel arrangement of moraines and Great Lakes’ shorelines
  • Explain erratics: large boulders, mostly of igneous or metamorphic origin, which are deposited in areas of mostly sedimentary bedrock
  • Hypothesize what climatic changes may have occurred to produce ice ages
V.1.HS.2 Use the plate tectonics theory to explain features of the earth’s surface and geological phenomena and describe evidence for the plate tectonics theory.
1st semester
  • Interpret the early evidence of continental movements, such as similarities across continents in existing animals, plants, fossils, shoreline shapes, and rock layer sequences
  • Illustrate how seafloor bedrock patterns and age (paleo-magnetism) provide convincing evidence of plate motions
  • Differentiate between continents and plates
  • Identify plate boundaries as lines of earthquakes on a world earthquake map
  • Describe the causes of earthquakes as compression (plates moving together), tension (plates moving apart), or shearing (plates sliding sideways)
V.1.HS.3 Explain how common objects are made from earth materials and why earth materials are conserved and recycled.
1st semester
need resources
  • Investigate Earth’s natural resources, how they are used, and how they are limited
  • Deduce the impacts when resources are depleted
  • Explain how an individual’s decisions involving consumption can have both a local and global impact
V.1.HS.4 Evaluate alternative long-range plans for resource use and by-product disposal in terms of environmental and economic impact.
2nd semester
need resources
  • Research a natural resource:
    • the use of the natural resource
    • the disposal of by-products/wastes
  • Assess the options involving the natural resource -their effect on the environment
    • their economic impact in the present
    • their economic impact in the future
V.2.HS.1 Identify and describe regional watersheds.
2nd semester
new 2000 need resources
  • Outline local and regional drainage basins/watersheds on maps
  • Mark drainage divides on maps
V.2.HS.2 Describe how human activities affect the quality of water in the hydrosphere.
2nd semester

need resources

  • Predict how human activities at one location often have adverse affects on other locations
  • Compare, contrast, and evaluate various methods of purifying water
Atmosphere & Weather:
V.3.HS.1 Explain how interactions of the atmosphere, hydrosphere and geosphere create climates and how climates change over time
2nd semester
  • Explain how each of the following contributes to the creation of distinct regional climates:
    • the angle of the Sun’s rays (which varies with latitude)
    • differences in global circulation of air and ocean currents
    • altitude and position of landforms
V.3.HS.2 Describe patterns of air movement in the atmosphere and how they affect weather conditions.
2nd semester
  • Explain how changes in the weather result from the movement of air masses
V.3.HS.3 Explain and predict general weather patterns and storms.
2nd semester
  • Explain air movements associated with fronts and pressure systems
  • Explain that warm and cold fronts are part of larger air circulations
  • Explain the relationship between weather variables and frontal speed to the degree of storminess
V.3.HS.4 Explain the impact of human activities on the atmosphere and explain ways that individuals and society can reduce pollution.
2nd semester
  • Identify those industries that are major contributors to air pollution
  • Analyze the general impact that corrective measures would have on the polluting industry and the cost of their products
  • Give examples of how their daily activities can both positively and negatively affect air quality
  • Identify how their decisions impact air quality
Solar System:
V.4.HS.1 Compare our sun to other stars.
1st semester
  • Explain why the Sun is a star
  • Compare and contrast the Sun with other stars
  • Deduce that the Sun is not an unusual star based on common star characteristics
V.4.HS.2 Describe the position and motion of our solar system in our galaxy and the overall scale, structure and age of the universe.
1st semester
  • Explain how spectral observations (red shift) have led to the theory of the big bang, which explains the origin and the age of the universe
V.4.HS.3 Explain how stars and planetary systems form and how stars produce energy.
1st semester
  • Explain how the gravitational collapse of a cloud of gas and dust produces extreme pressure and temperature that triggers nuclear fusion
  • Explain how smaller atoms combine to make larger ones during nuclear fusion, release large quantities of energy, and form a star
  • Explain how heavy elements have been spread throughout the universe
  • Explain how components of a solar system may be formed
V.4.HS.4 Explain how technology and scientific inquiry have helped us learn about the universe.
1st semester
  • Explain how technological advances have allowed us to test our hypotheses and to expand our knowledge of the universe

Committee Members:
Jay Anthes, Jeff Bechtel, Linda Craun, Scott May, Karyn McConachie

Last Revised: Mon, Dec 8, 2003