learning objectives Earth Science

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McMahon: Earth Science learning objectives 2014
I. Spherical Earth
1. Know earth’s shape, relative size and motion
a. Obtain information p. 15 ESRT
b. oblate spheroid
c. earth is tilted 23.5 d to sun’s rays.
d. sun’s rays are parallel to each other and can only hit one point on
surface at 90 d angle at a time.
2. Obtain information on surface characteristics p. 1 ESRT
II. Mapping the Earth: Coordinates
1. Identify the grid system we use for locating positions.
a. Draw latitude and longitude lines
b. Find locations and write coordinates for a globe
2. Break degrees into minutes and seconds
a. Write coordinates correctly using p. 3 ESRT
b. Know that NYS is western hemisphere and numbers increase to the left.
3. Know parameters of latitude
a. Equator, tropics, parallels, arctic and Antarctic
b. Polaris and latitude
c. Climate changes with latitude
d. P. 4 ESRT identifies tropics, equator, circles
e. Poles are points of axis of rotation
4. Know parameters of longitude
a. Arbitrary lines
b. Prime Meridian, meridians, International Date Line
c. 24 hour rotation broken into time zones
d. Earth rotates west to east at 15 0/hr
e. Point west are earlier; points east are later
III. Mapping the Earth: Contour Lines
1. Isolines, contour lines, contour, contour interval, map scale, map key
2. Recognize data on a field map and identify the field values
3. Use data to draw isolines: know and apply rules of drawing isolines
a. Draw small ‘x’ between values to determine location of points
4. Interpret landscape from isolines
a. Identify stream location and direction: interpret ‘v’s in contour lines;
change in elevation; and ocean (if present in picture).
b. Determine steep and gentle slopes
c. Estimate value of highest and lowest points and points between lines.
d. Interpret hatchure marks
5. Determine contour interval from diagram.
6. Use map scale correctly
7. calculate gradient
8. draw profiles
IV. Interior Earth
1. Read and interpret p. 10 ESRT: “inferred properties of earth’s interior”
2. understand the significance of ‘inferred’ and know humans have only dug down a
few miles
3. List and explain the facts leading to model:
a. Asteroid and meteoroids; magnetic field; density/weight; orbit
b. Seismic wave behavior
4. Identify and discuss protoplanet/nebular theory
V. Earth Materials: minerals in the crust
1. List 5 characteristics of all minerals and apply to examples
2. Know the silicate tetrahedron and most common families of minerals
Know thousands of different minerals are identified on earth
3. Use p. 16 ESRT to identify compositions of most common minerals
4. Identify observable characteristics that are dependent on the internal
arrangement of atoms:
a. crystal shape, hardness, density, luster, break pattern
5. Identify other observable characteristics: color, streak, chemical behavior
6. Perform identification tests and identify mineral samples:
a. Minerals found p. 16 ESRT
b. Streak test, hardness test, differentiate metallic/non-metallic luster,
chemical acid test for calcite, cleavage/fracture
c. Unusual characteristics: sulfur, graphite, diamond
VI. Earth Materials: non-sedimentary rocks
1. Igneous (fire) rock;
a. Parent rock, from cooled magma and lava
b. Magma composition has changed over time: so have igneous rocks
c. Compare/contrast continental, oceanic, mantle igneous rocks/magmas
i. mafic and felsic magmas/rocks
ii. Bowen’s reaction series indicates mineral growth
iii. density differences have created continents and ocean basins
d. Interpret ‘environment of formation’ from observable characteristics
i. Minerals in igneous rocks show ‘intergrown crystals’
ii. Slow-cooling leads to large crystals; fast-cooling to fine or glassy
iii. Vesicular indicates rapid cooling and explosive release of gas
e. Use bottom p. 6 ESRT to identify igneous rocks and/or characteristics of
specific rocks.
i. Mafic magmas create basaltic/oceanic rock
ii. Felsic magmas create grantitic/continental rock
2. Metamorphic rock
a. Know processes that change rock must be severe/prolonged
b. Metamorphic rocks may have completely different minerals from original
rock due to recrystallization and realignment of atoms
c. 3 general processes:
i. Extreme heat due to igneous intrusions: contact metamorphism
ii. Extreme pressure due to tectonic collisions/tensions/stress and/or
the weight of miles of overlying sediments
iii. Introduction of seawater in subduction zones and fissures.
d. Know, describe and identify foliated and nonfoliated rocks
i. Use p. 7 ESRT to describe, identify metamorphic rocks
ii. Correlate rocks with regional and/or contact metamorphism
3. Identifying non-sedimentary rocks;
a. Describe visual characteristics of samples:
Mineral/colors, crystal size, presence/absence of mica
crystal alignment , monomineralic (chemical/hardness tests)
b. Determine whether igneous or metamorphic
c. Apply p. 6 and 7 ESRT to observations
4. Interpreting block diagrams;
Symbols p. 6 and 7 ESRT and knowledge of formation of rocks/minerals
VI. Lithospheric Plates
1. Find lithosphere, crust, rigid mantle and MOHO p. 10 ESRT
2. Identify plates p. 5 ESRT
3. Know and give evidence for theory of Continental Drift
a. Fossil, rocks, mountains, magnetic polarity continental rock, shape of
4. Know and describe development of theory of seafloor spreading:
a. How it was discovered
b. Significance of ages of oceanic rock, presence of mid-ocean ridges
c. Draw, describe and identify significance of changes in magnetic polarity
of igneous rock at mid-ocean ridges.
5. Describe theory of plate tectonics and list additional evidences:
a. Earthquake ‘belts’, mountain chains and volcanic arcs
b. Ages and relative thickness of oceanic vs. continental crust
c. Locations of trenches, deep quakes, volcanic arc
6. Apply understanding and use symbols p. 5 ESRT to interpret and make
predictions of behavior of plates and lithosphere at boundaries.
a. List and interpret convergent (subducting), divergent and transform
b. Correlate well-known tectonically active areas with boundary types
7. Define, describe and draw convection cells and relate to density of materials
a. P. 10 ESRT asthenosphere and convection
b. Slab pull/slab push
VII. Earthquakes
1. Define and describe earthquakes and conditions that create them
2. List and describe earthquake wave types
a. P and S waves: characteristics, speed
3. Develop skill reading p. 11 ESRT for seismic waves
4. Locate epicenter:
a. read seismograms; determine S-P arrival times; determine distance to
epicenter; draw epicenter radius circles on map; find epicenter location
5. Describe earthquake:
a. Depth, magnitude (richter scale), intensity (mercalli scale)
6. List and describe earthquake evidence of earth’s interior
a. Shadow zone and p-wave behavior
7. List and describe earthquake evidence of the structure and behavior of
lithospheric plates and interactions at plate boundaries.
a. Plot real data by location, depth and magnitude
b. Correlate plotted map data with plate tectonics
8. Identify earthquake preparedness responses: before, during and after quake
VIII. Leveling Forces: Weathering
1. Contrast uplifting and leveling forces.
2. Define and describe weathering types (chemical vs mechanical), processes, results
3. Appreciate the vast amount of time required to weather rock
4. Classify sediments by particle size (clastics), mineral content and shape
a. Determine sediment name from size using p. 6 ESRT
5. List, describe and identify environment of factors that cause weathering:
a. Ice-wedging, chemical weathering (calcites, granites), frost action,
Exfoliation (pressure unloading), plant action, freezing/heating,
IX. Leveling Forces: Erosional Forces (and consequent deposition)
1. Define erosion and contrast with weathering
2. List and describe major erosional agents.
3. Correlate deposition of sediments with erosional agents
4. Interpret diagrams of landscapes and identify evidences of erosional agents:
a. Gravity-unsorted, angular fragments and talus slopes
i. Landslides, creep, mudslides, avalanches
b. Running water-rounded, sorted fragments; v-shaped valleys (young) and
flat floodplains and meanders (older), and horizontal sorting of sediments
i. Identify areas of deposition and erosion on meanders
ii. Describe deposition of materials entering quiet water
c. Glaciersi. Sediments: till of unsorted, rounded and scratched sediments
(drumlins and moraines); glacial meltwaters and sorted glacial
sediments (eskers, kames and outwash plains, varves)
ii. Landscapes: continental glaciers-rounded, scoured scratched hills,
Valley glaciers-u-shaped valleys, cirques, horns
Both: erratics, transported soils, striations
iii. Evidence of Ice Ages in NYS
d. Wind-arid climates. Sorted by size. Small size. Hoodoos
e. Wave Action: beaches.
i. Identify, trace, interpret diagrams with long-shore currents
ii. Locate areas of deposition and erosion
5. Know gravity is main force of most erosion
X. Sedimentary Rocks
1. Define sedimentary rocks and two main categories of sedimentary rocks.
2. Know most sediments settle in water and particles are rounded and sorted by size
in horizontal layers.
3. Understand that sedimentary rock layers indicate long periods of geologic time:
original rock to be weathered (sediments), layers to form, layers to compact/cement,
layers to be uplifted.
3. Define ‘fossil’ and correlate with ocean sediments/environment
4. Use page 7 ESRT to identify types of sedimentary rocks by:
a. crystalline or bioclastic identified by mineral identification or organic
b. clastic: by sediment size/shape
5. Use page 7 ESRT to interpret process of formation:
Chemical rocks (seawater evaporates or chemicals precipitate)
Bioclastic-shells, carbon from plants
Clastic, land-derived are sediments stuck together in layers or in masses
6. Interpret block diagrams using layers and symbols p. 7 ESRT
7. Describe and identify sedimentary rocks
8. Use p. 6 top left to relate 3 rock types by process of formation
XI. Landscape Identification
1. List and describe plain, plateau and mountains:
i. by rock type, structure, elevation, drainage patterns
2. Identify stream drainage patterns and correlate with landscapes
3. Follow and interpret stream divides and watersheds.
4. Describe landscape of NYS and US from elevations, stream drainage patterns
and rock type.
XII. Geologic History of earth
1. Apply understanding of earth materials, tectonics and leveling forces to
interpretation of geologic profiles.
2. List, define, describe and give examples of the concepts applied in interpreting
geologic profiles and block diagrams:
i. original horizontality, principle of superposition, principle of cross-cutting
relationships (igneous intrusions and contact metamorphism), unconformities,
folding/faulting, over-turning
3. Identify characteristics of index fossils and use p. 9 ESRT to list and describe
some of NYS index fossils.
4. Correlate rock layers from separate locations using fossils and principles
5. Use page 8-9 ESRT to describe geologic and biologic history of earth.
6. Correlate NYS maps (geology and landscapes) p. 2-3 ESRT with timeline,
tectonic activity and fossil evidences from p. 8-9 ESRT.
XIII. Heat and Heat Transfer
1. Define ‘heat’ and identify units used p. 1 ESRT
2. define ‘specific heat’ and compare/contrast substances p. 1 ESRT
3. Describe and identify significance of properties of water p. 1 ESRT
a. List and explain factors that cause oceans and large bodies of water to be
‘climate moderators’: depth, transparency, movement, specific heat,
b. draw and interpret water phase-change diagrams
4. Heat transfer: define each, describe and draw or interpret diagrams
a. Convection: Correlate density with warm, rising air (or water) and cool,
falling air (or water)
b. Conduction: in solids or at interfaces. How air is heated or cooled through
contact with surface (land, ice, water)
c. Radiation: in EMEs. Use p. 14 ESRT infrared energy. Creates the
greenhouse effect.
5. Earth’s heat budget
a. INSOLATION (sunlight) is effected by sun’s output, transparency of
atmosphere, clouds, moisture content atmosphere, surface characteristics
b. reradiation is absorbed energy given off by earth’s surface. Infrared
energy effected by earth’s atmosphere
c. global warming and increase CO2, H2O and CH4 gases.
d. Interpret and explain graphs of seasonal insolatin, radiation and
temperatures. Define radiative balance and insolation lag.
XIV. Climate
1. Define and identify 2 main parameters: temperature ranges and precipitation
2. List 7 factors that most influence climate and describe the effects on temperatures
and moisture;
a. Latitude, elevation, prevailing wind direction, orographic effect, near or
far to large bodies of water, Vegetation/cities, ocean currents
b. Find winds, pressure belts, convection cells, dry and wet p. 14 ESRT
c. Find and explain cool and warm ocean currents p. 4 ESRT
3. Explain the P/Ep ratio, how it is determined and what it indicates about a climate:
a. Define arid and humid and correlate with P/Ep
4. Describe the unequal heating of locations on earth due to:
Shape of round planet (latitude), nearness to water/land
4. Orographic Effect: predict and explain the changes in temperature of rising air
(elevation) cloud formation and precipitation. Correlate with windward and
leeward climates
5. Identify and explain differences in heating and cooling of vegetation, soil, water
and cities.
6. Describe soil moisture storage and effect on climate
a. Describe and label diagrams of groundwater and hydrologic cycle
b. Define, describe and evaluate soil-water movement:
i. Porosity, permeability and capillarity
ii. Indications for development and climate
7. Apply understanding of climate factors and maps p. 4 and 14 ESRT to
interpretation of climates on an imaginary continent. Correlate with biomes.
8. Describe El Nino and La Nina events
XV. Weather
1. Define weather and contrast with climate
2. describe air masses by temperature, moisture and source region and use p. 13
ESRT codes. Find on maps
3. describe fronts: draw, label diagrams of cross-sections, describe location of clouds
and precipitation, indicate prevailing wind direction.
4. show fronts and air masses on weather maps, describe current weather at fronts
and in air masses; make predictions on prior and future weather maps.
5. Define, describe and determine dew point temperature, specific humidity and
relative humidity for the school (and tools used). Apply p. 12 ESRT
6. Define barometric (air) pressure, factors influencing pressure, how it is
determined (and tools used), what pressures indicate about air masses and storms.
a. List characteristics of ‘nice’ air-high pressure and stormy low-pressure
7. Define wind and pressure gradients (and tools used)
a. Interpret isobars on weather maps
b. Identify winds inside air masses and use these to determine frontal types
and motion
c. Identify wind patterns in high pressure systems and low pressure systems
d. Identify local and global winds
8. Learn to use p. 13 ESRT to:
a. Do temperature and pressure conversions
b. Interpret station models on weather maps
c. Draw station models from data
d. Convert pressure in millibars to station symbol and vice versa
9. Interpret synoptic weather maps and make predictions
10. Collect, graph and interpret local weather data
11. Describe and explain formation and motion of severe weather systems:
a. Hurricanes, blizzards, t-storms, tornadoes, drought, wildfires
b. Emergency preparedness and response for each of the severe events
c. Watches and warnings
XVI. Climate Change, Global Warming and other environmental events
1. Define; and identify evidences of; and cause of;
Climate change: precipitation patterns and biome-specific temperature changes
a. changes in orbit/tilt; solar output; transparence of atmosphere; albedo;
water on surface; amount of ice; changes in greenhouse gases
b. sea level rise, loss of ice, dirty ice, migration of biomes, migration of
animals, changes in vegetation
c. polar amplification
Global Warming: know it is described as worldwide averages, not local event
Same indicators as above
Loss of groundwater due to changes in precipitation patterns and human consumption
XVII. Earth Motions.
Define, describe, draw and interpret diagrams that show earth’s rotation
and revolution
List and describe evidences of earth’s revolution:
Seasons, seasonal constellations, parallax
1. Know that rotation creates day and night, Coriolis Effect, sun’s apparent path
2. Be able to draw, interpret and explain sun’s path diagrams for one or multiple
days for specific latitudes (especially NYS and equator)
a. Identify zenith, solar noon, direction of sun on arc, location sunrise and
Sunset, sun at any specific time, location of Polaris
b. be able to draw any equinox or solstice line if one is already given:
i. equinoxes begin due east and set due west
ii. arcs will be parallel
iii. 23.4 d separates solar noon altitudes on equinoxes and solstices.
3. Draw, label and interpret diagram of earth revolving around the sun:
a. Include tilted, parallel axis
b. North Pole pointing always toward Polaris
c. Counterclockwise revolution and rotation
d. Placement of seasonal constellations in ‘night’ sky
e. Identify summer solstice (june 21) and aphelion (july 3)
and winter solstice (dec. 21) and perihelion (jan 4)
f. identify equinox locations
4. On diagram of earth with sun’s rays coming in as parallel lines:
a. Determine terminator and shade night
b. Draw axis, equator, tropics, our latitude and interpret season and length of
5. For the start of each season, identify/label the date, the latitude of perpendicular
solar rays, the season for the northern hemisphere, the location of sunrise/sunset.
6. Analyze the cause and effects of seasonal and daily changes in angle of insolation
and seasonal effects of duration of insolation
correlate position of sun with length and direction of shadows.
7. correlate earth-sun system and Ice Ages
XVIII. Earth-Moon-Sun
Describe: formation of moon; surface of moon; atmosphere of moon
Know that this relationship gives observers on earth phases of the moon (lunar
month), eclipses of both sun and moon, and ocean tides.
1. Be able to draw and interpret phase diagram of moon in its orbit (revolution)
around the earth
2. Know and identify locations of primary phases
3. know direction and length of time of lunar revolution and phases
4. identify 5 d tilt to lunar orbit
5. consider the scale differences in size and distances among sun, earth and moon
6. define, draw and give correct phases for eclipses and explain their rarity
7. define, locate on earth-moon diagram, describe and give phases for neap and
spring tides and high and low tides
XIX. Solar System
Define and describe and use p. 15 ESRT for solar system
1. Name and describe nebular theory/protoplanet hypothesis and age of solar system
2. Describe inner, terrestrial planets and contrast those with atmospheres and those
without atmospheres
3. Describe jovian, gas giant planets and contrast with inner planets
4. locate and describe asteroid belt, comets and oort cloud and dwarf planets
5. Make or evaluate a scale model of the solar system, considering both the sizes and
distances between planets and the sun
XX. Deep Space
Define ‘celestial sphere’, ‘celestial equator’, right ascension, declination
Define and compare ‘star’, ‘solar system’, ‘galaxy’, ‘universe’
1. Describe stars;
a. Formation after the ‘big bang’
b. Nebular theory-protostar begins thermonuclear fusion
c. Main sequence stars described on page 15 ESRT ; describe luminosity,
size, color, temperature
d. Spectral ‘fingerprints’ and analysis indicate conditions of and distances to
stars (and galaxies)
e. Know how initial size and temperature determine evolution/life cycle of
stars. Describe steps of our sun’s evolution
f. Correlate red supergiants, red giants with second stage and white dwarf
stars, black holes and neutron stars with nova, supernova and end of stars.
2. Galaxies: define.
a. Identify, label and describe our Milky Way Galaxy in terms of size, shape
and number of stars
b. Define local cluster
c. Consider distances in terms of lightyears and time
3. Observable universe:
Define and identify components of the universe
1. Formation of universe and ‘big bang’
a. Cosmic background radiation
b. Age of universe: telescopes, spectrometers, CCDs and Doppler
Red Shift indicate 13.7 by old universe.
c. Continues to expand and at an accelerated rate of growth
d. Clarify we know very little and theories abound and shift
constantly and are based on our CURRENT understanding of

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