The Science of Sustainability

 

The Earth Science Education Collection has been created to help educators find the best QUEST resources for the classroom.  For each of the grade-level California Science Content Standards (listed below), you will find three sections: a list of all of the resources that are referenced for that standard, information about what students should already know about the content standard and what possible misconceptions they might hold, and a suggested sequence for using the various resources.  Each resource has a reference to the applicable substandard(s).

Standard 1, Earth’s Place in the Universe

QUEST Resources

Note: An asterisk (*) next to the resource signifies that there is an associated QUEST Educator Guide.

Searching for Life on Mars (video)
QUEST Quiz: The Sun (video)
Journey Into The Sun(video)
Asteroid Hunters(video)
The Planet Hunters(video)
Exoplanets(audio)
Dawn: Mission to Explore Strange New Worlds (blog)
Winds of change: the climate of the solar system (blog)
Kepler's Smokin' Performance: Zero to 68 in 4 Months! (blog)
Far Out, Man: Measuring Astronomical Distances (blog)

Background:

  • Students should already know that there are other planets that have moons and that all these planets and moons have been affected by asteroids and meteorites – ALL of which orbit our sun.  Students should already know that our discoveries of these different planets and moon (and other stars besides our sun) used telescopes that can “see” all types of light, not just our visual spectrum.
  • Teachers should sensitive to students' misconceptions that the big bang was the start of life OR was the start of our solar system.  According to scientists' best estimates, our universe is nearly 14 billion years old while our solar system is closer to 4.6 billion years old.

Sequence of Use

QUEST has many resources for this set of standards.  To start this unit, teachers may want students to complete a Do Now or HW by reading the QUEST blog, Dawn: Mission to Explore Strange New Worlds.  This resource illustrates that there is a lot of non-planet material flying around in space that may hold some answers to questions about the early development of our solar system (1a).  Another QUEST blog that can be used similarly is, Winds of change: the climate of the solar system.  This resource helps to describe the origin of our solar system (1b).  Teachers may want to show students the QUEST video, Asteroid Hunters, that illustrates why scientists remain vigilant about the asteroids in the solar system in the hopes that humans can avoid the fate of the dinosaurs (1d,f).  Searching for Life on Mars is a QUEST video that describes the changes in this planet over time and how this planetary neighbor may once have harbored life (1a,c).  Teachers may want students to see Journey Into The Sun and QUEST Quiz: The Sun, two QUEST video resources that describe the star of our solar system and the effects of the sun on Earth (1e).  Teachers may also want to share the QUEST blog, Far Out, Man: Measuring Astronomical Distances, which may be a good resource to providing students with ways to conceive of the size of our solar system (1d).

For the starred honors standards, QUEST has some additional resources.  The Planet Hunters QUEST video and the Exoplanets QUEST audio story both highlight the technology and discoveries that are revealing planets outside of our solar system (1g).  Also, the QUEST blog Kepler's Smokin' Performance: Zero to 68 in 4 Months! describes how the Kepler telescope has been key is helping uncover exoplanets.  This blog can be read with students or assigned as a Do Now or HW (1g).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.

Standard 2, Earth’s Place in the Universe

QUEST Resources

Milky Way 2.0? (blog)
Nobel Laureate George Smoot and the Origin of the Universe(video)
Dark Energy(video)
Homegrown Particle Accelerators(video)

Background:

  • Students should already know that our solar system is in the Milky Way galaxy, towards the outside part of our galaxy's spiral arm.  Students should already know that there are many more stars in our galaxy than we can see with our eyes and that telescopes use different types of energy to reveal many, many more stars in our sky.
  • Teachers should be aware that students may not understand that what we know about our own galaxy has been inferred from our observations.  We have not been able to “see” our own galaxy because we are IN it, and cannot travel sufficiently far away from the Earth to be able to photograph the Milky Way Galaxy.

Sequence of Use

Teachers may want to start this section by providing students with the blog, Milky Way 2.0?, to read as a Do Now or as HW.  This blog is a solid description of our galaxy and how scientists have learned what we know about it (2b).  Teachers may also want to show the QUEST video, Nobel Laureate George Smoot and the Origin of the Universe.  This resources provides students with information about the types of questions that scientists have been investigating about the origin of the universe and the questions that persist for scientists today (2g).  Another perspective on what scientists are studying about the origin of the universe is found in the QUEST video,  Dark Energy (2b,g).  Teachers may also want students to see the QUEST video, Homegrown Particle Accelerators, which describes the history of atom smashers and hints about the new information that may emerge from these amazing machines (2e).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.

Standard 3, Dynamic Earth Processes

QUEST Resources

Video, Earthquakes: Breaking New Ground*
Video, The Hayward Fault: Predictable Peril*
Video, Scary Tsunamis*
Video, Web Extra: Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve
Blog, Bay Area Volcanoes

Background:

  • Students should already know that the Earth started out as molten rock and that there is still molten rock under the surface of the Earth.  Also, students should know that some processes working on the Earth are fast (earthquakes) or slow (weathering down mountains), but that the surface of the earth is always changing.  Students should recognize that the continents of the Earth fit together (almost) like a puzzle, indicating that they have moved from earlier positions.
  • Teachers should be aware that students may have many different theories about how the Earth has changed, but in nearly all cases students struggle with the time frame from of the slower changes (movement of the continents, weathering away mountains).

Sequence of Use

QUEST has many resources for this set of standards.  Teachers may want to start this section by having students watch one of the QUEST videos, The Hayward Fault: Predictable Peril or Earthquakes: Breaking New Ground. These videos includes a variety of historical and current information about faults and has good images of some of the continental plates and illustrations of faults (3b,d).  Teachers may also want to show students the QUEST video, Scary Tsunamis, which is a great review of how tsunamis form and their effects on land (3a,b).  Teachers may want to show the QUEST video, Web Extra: Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, so that students can learn about the volcanoes that exist in California and the impact volcanoes on California landforms (3b,c,e,f).  Finally, teachers may want to assign the QUEST blog, Bay Area Volcanoes, as a HW assignment or Do Now.  This blog talks about the various types of volcanism that has occurred in CA and includes some evidence for this geologic activity (3b,f).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.

Standard 4, Energy in the Earth System

QUEST Resources

Audio, Urban Heat Islands*
Blog, Global Warming on Venus?
Audio, KQED Climate Watch, Methane: The Other Greenhouse Gas
Video, Searching for Life on Mars
Video, Algae Power*
Video, From Waste To Watts: Biofuel Bonanza*
Video, Going UP: Sea Level Rise in San Francisco Bay*
Video, Solar City: The Future of Nanosolar*

Background:

  • Students should already know that energy goes through many transformations as it moves from one material to another.  Students should also know that energy lost from one system is gained by another.  Also, students should already know that weather can change frequently while climate is more constant (though even climate can be changed large events like volcanic eruptions OR through increasing greenhouse gases).
  • Teachers should be sensitive to the difference between weather and climate.  Many students mistake heat waves or cold snaps with changes in climate.  Students may also struggle with understanding what characteristics of a gas make it a greenhouse gas.  Be careful NOT to conmingle the greenhouse effect with the depleting ozone layer as students often confuse the two concepts.

Sequence of Use

QUEST has a variety of resources for this set of standards.  Teachers may want to start this unit by listening to the QUEST audio segment, Urban Heat Islands.  In this segment, students will get a great review of what happens to energy from the sun as it hits various parts of the Earth (4a,b,c,d).  Going UP: Sea Level Rise in San Francisco Bay is a QUEST video that discusses the challenge of sea level rise and what will happen as the Earth warms and the polar ice continues to melt and warm up (4b,c,d).  Teachers may want students to listen to the QUEST videos Algae Power and Solar City: The Future of Nanosolar.  Both of these resources address how energy from the sun can be harnessed on Earth to do work – either in helping create biofuels directly or through converting sunlight through photovoltaic cells (4a,b). The video KQED Climate Watch has a variety of great resources on this topic, and the episode Methane: The Other Greenhouse Gas is particularly valuable at this point in explaining how methane is such a powerful greenhouse gas (4b,c).  Teachers may want students to see the QUEST video, From Waste To Watts: Biofuel Bonanza, which also provides some information about methane AND provides alternative ways to use methane to actually help decrease our emission of greenhouse gases (4c).The blog, Global Warming on Venus?, has some great descriptions of the atmospheres of different planets and provides some questions to discuss around why various planets have the environments that they do (4d).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.

Standard 5, Energy in the Earth System

QUEST Resources

Audio, Urban Heat Islands*
Video, Acidic Seas*
Blog, The Rhythms of the El Niño-La Niña Climate Pattern
Video, Science of Big Waves*

Background:

  • Students should already know that climates remain relatively stable for long periods of time but that local temperature and weather can change frequently due to the rotation and orbit of the Earth.
  • Teachers should try to connect the ideas of energy and differential heating to these standards.  As students develop their knowledge, they will begin to have increasingly sophisticated understandings about how the energy of the sun powers the wind and weather.  Students will hopefully also be able to build upon their conceptions of human’s impacts on the patterns that we have seen in the Earth’s climate.

Sequence of Use

Teachers may want to start this unit by having students read the QUEST blog, The Rhythms of the El Niño-La Niña Climate Pattern.  This blog describes some of the causes and effects of El Nino and La Nina (5d).  The QUEST video, Science of Big Waves, describes the energy sources of large ocean waves and how this energy moves through the ocean to shore (5a,b).  Teachers may also want students to see the QUEST video, Acidic Seas, which provides some information about how scientists characterize various aspects of our oceans (5d).  Finally, teachers may want students to hear the QUEST audio Urban Heat Islands, which describes the effects of  differential heating of particular environments on local weather (5a).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.

Standard 6, Energy in the Earth System

QUEST Resources

Video, Science of Big Waves*
Video, Climate Watch: California at the Tipping Point*
Website/Audio/Video, KQED Climate Watch
Blog, Resolving Clouds in Climate Change Models
Video, Web Extra: At the Core of Climate Change

Background:

  • Students should already know that climates remain relatively stable for long periods of time but that local temperature and weather can change frequently due to the rotation and orbit of the Earth.
  • Teachers should try to connect the ideas of energy and differential heating to these standards.  As students develop their knowledge, they will begin to have increasingly sophisticated understandings about how energy of the sun powers the wind and weather.  Students will hopefully also be able to build upon their conceptions of human’s impacts on the patterns that we have seen in the Earth’s climate.

Sequence of Use

Teachers may want to start this unit by watching the QUEST video, Climate Watch: California at the Tipping Point.  In this video, students will learn about the heating trends in California’s climate and the potential impacts of this warmer climate (6a,b,c,d).  Following this, teachers may want students to see the QUEST video, Science of Big Waves.  This video emphasizes the connection between atmospheric energy and other types of energy, in this case large ocean waves (6a).  Teachers may also want students to watch the QUEST video Web Extra: At the Core of Climate Change that illustrates how scientists are learning about ancient atmospheres by analyzing the gasses trapped in polar ice (6c,d).  Teachers may also want students to read the QUEST blog, Resolving Clouds in Climate Change Models, that further illustrates the importance of supercomputing and climate modeling in understanding this complex and intricate topic (6d).

Teachers may want students to visit KQED Climate on their own time.  This website has a variety of resources and ideas about how to get students involved in the climate change conversation (6a,b,c,d).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.

Standard 7, Biogeochemical Cycles

QUEST Resources

Audio, How Green Is Biomass Energy?
Blog, How Green Is Biomass Energy?
Video, Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol*
Video, Ants: The Invisible Majority*

Background:

  • Students should already know that energy is cycled through various organisms that get energy from the sun, from eating other organisms or from digesting organisms that have died.
  • Teachers should be clear about the importance of carbon for life on Earth.  Teachers should emphasize that for animals, we get carbon from the food that we eat, but plants get their carbon through their LEAVES (through holes called stomata).  Plants take in gaseous atmospheric carbon and, through photosynthesis, trap sunlight energy in carbon bonds (sugar molecules).

Sequence of Use

If students haven’t already seen Ants: The Invisible Majority, now would be a great time to watch this QUEST video.  This resource illustrates the way that ants participate in the “brown cycle,” recycling a variety of nutrients from various sources (7b).  Next, teachers may want to show the QUEST video Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol.  In this video resource, students will learn about how scientists are creating fuels from the energy that plants have trapped in the carbon bonds of a variety of structural molecules (7a,b).  Finally, teachers may want students to hear the QUEST audio segment, How Green Is Biomass Energy?.  This resource describes some of the challenges of using bio-mass (dead or dying organic matter) as an energy source in light of our current energy systems (7a,b).  The QUEST blog, How Green Is Biomass Energy?, illustrates how there can be different perspectives on just how “green” a particular energy source is when compared with others (7a,b).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.

Standard 8, Structure and Composition of the Atmosphere

QUEST Resources

Video, Illuminating the Northern Lights*
Video, Web Extra: At the Core of Climate Change
Interactive Website, UC Museum of Paleontology website, Geological Time Machine

Background:

  • Students should already know that conditions on the Earth are different than those found on other planets.  Students should also already know that based on our distance from the sun and the size of our planet, the Earth appears to be unique in our solar system for its ability to sustain life.  Students should also already know that our atmosphere has changed over time and that humans are currently impacting the composition of gases in our atmosphere.
  • Teachers should be sure to emphasize the changes in the Earth’s atmosphere since the Earth was formed nearly 4.6 billion years ago – for example, plants are responsible for the creation of nearly all of the gaseous oxygen O2 on Earth.  Students are often puzzled by the fact the most common gas in our atmosphere is nitrogen (N2), which humans need for our metabolic activities, but cannot access from the atmosphere.

Sequence of Use

Teachers may want to start this unit by having students watch Illuminating the Northern Lights, a QUEST video that shows how the Earth’s magnetic field are seen in the upper atmosphere as the Northern or Southern lights (8a).  Also, teachers can present the QUEST video, Web Extra: At the Core of Climate Change, to illustrate the kinds of things that scientists can do to investigate pre-historic atmospheric conditions on Earth (8b).

For a great review of the various time periods on the Earth, teachers and students can visit the UC Museum of Paleontology website, Geological Time Machine (8a,b).  This website walks through the characteristics of the various time periods on Earth from the Hadean (4.5 billion years ago) to the Cenozoic Era (today).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.

Standard 9, California Geology

QUEST Resources

Video, State of Thirst: California's Water Future*
Video, Geothermal Heats Up*
Video, Landslide Detectives*
Video, Napa Wineries Face Global Warming
Video, Restoration of the San Joaquin River*
Video, The Hayward Fault: Predictable Peril*
Video, Scary Tsunamis*

Background:

  • Students should already know that California has some unique natural resources and hazards based on our location on the globe.  Students should already recognize that California is as well-known for its earthquakes as it is for its food and wine production.
  • Teachers should be careful to emphasize both the advantages and disadvantages of California geology – emphasizing the economic challenges and advantages that emerge as well.

Sequence of Use

QUEST has a variety of resources for this set of standards.  By first presenting students the QUEST video, State of Thirst: California's Water Future, students can get an overview of the advantages and challenges facing California as we continue to push our food production and grow our population (9a,c).  Continuing to build upon our state's struggles between water and other natural resources, teachers can show students the QUEST video Restoration of the San Joaquin River.  This video discusses the challenges facing farmers and naturalists as they try to strike a balance between the two (9a,c).  Characteristics of California's climate and geology lead to particular advantages and challenges.  The QUEST videos, Landslide Detectives, Geothermal Heats Up and Napa Wineries Face Global Warming, all illustrate how our location leads us to have particular natural resources that are also some of the reasons we have particular hazards (9a,b,d). Teachers may want students to see the QUEST videos Scary Tsunamis and The Hayward Fault: Predictable Peril that both highlight the hazards of being on the coast and in an area of the world where faults are common (9b,d).

For more information on other aspects of this standard, go to PBS LearningMedia.