EarthLabs

Providing a national model for rigorous, engaging Earth and environmental lab science courses.

Lead Staff:
Sarah Hill

Summary

Earth science is emerging as a demanding high-school science course that prepares learners for college admissions and informed citizenship. Long perceived as a low-level science subject without a lab component, it now challenges and inspires students by leveraging visualization technologies and orbital and aerial perspectives to present Earth’s components, including human activities, as a single interacting system. Earth science classes integrate physics, chemistry, and biology to introduce students to a rich body of concepts and knowledge with which to understand the world around them and pressing environmental, social, and economic issues.

EarthLabs supports this transformation by providing a model for rigorous and engaging Earth and environmental science labs. EarthLabs offer the laboratory experiences needed to elevate Earth science to a capstone high-school science course that coheres prior science studies and benchmarks students for college placement.

EarthLabs units offer sequences for learning science concepts through hands-on experiments and data analysis. Using satellite imagery, numerical data, computer visualizations, and video, students explore Earth system processes and build quantitative skills that enable them to objectively evaluate scientific findings for themselves.

EarthLabs includes an accompanying Educator website with background information on the units, lab overviews, materials lists, and classroom strategies. The Educator website also provides student notebook guides, suggestions for classroom extensions, assessments, and answer keys.

Impact

The future of our planet depends on human abilities to understand Earth and manage its resources responsibly. Our ability to use water and energy, deal with natural disasters, and cope with the changes of with our warming climate all require a broad public understanding of how our planet works.

These challenges and opportunities all underscore the need for students, the public, political and business leaders, and scientists to understand our home planet so we can manage its resources and prepare for its future, while we enjoy its beauty. The goal of the EarthLabs project is to provide engaging and rigorous experiences that move us toward a sustainable existence on this planet.