Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Big Ideas in Earth Science

Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams in Washington State

Courtesy of David Curtiss at the AAPG:

"The U.S. National Science Foundation has launched an Earth Science Literacy Initiative and developed a 14-page color brochure that outlines nine “Big Ideas” in earth science that all informed members of society should understand.

Big Idea #1: Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet.
Big Idea #2: Earth is 4.6 billion years old.
Big Idea #3: Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life.
Big Idea #4: Earth is continuously changing.
Big Idea #5: Earth is the water planet.
Big Idea #6: Life evolves on a dynamic Earth and continuously modifies Earth.
Big Idea #7: Humans depend on Earth for resources.
Big Idea #8: Natural hazards pose risks to humans.
Big Idea #9: Humans significantly alter the Earth.

As described in the background to the document, “In a frighteningly ironic dichotomy, America has one of the most advanced and educated scientific communities in the world but one of the most scientifically ignorant populations. A document of the basic “Big Ideas” of Earth science, created by the Earth science community and supported and endorsed by the major Earth science organizations, would be extremely powerful in combating these destructive elements. Again, it is not enough that the Earth science communities carry out good research. These discoveries need to be communicated to the American people, and the people need to have sufficient literacy in the geosciences to understand those discoveries.”

For this initiative, NSF partnered with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the American Geological Institute, American Geophysical Union, Geological Society of America, National Association of Geoscience Teachers, National Earth Science Teacher Association, Smithsonian Institution, and U.S. Geological Survey. "

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