HS Earth Science - Course Content & Lab Materials

Suggested Lab Supplies

Noncomprehensive list of materials to stock an ESS laboratory.

Suggested Mineral List

General lab supplies:

Dissecting and Compound microscopes

Microscope Slides and coverslips

Beakers, various sizes

Watch glasses

Graduated Cylinders, various sizes

Digital and Mechanical balances

Hot plate



Stirring rods




Graph Paper

Student Smart Phones


Baking Soda

Earth’s Surface:

Stream table and sand


Topographic Map kits

Screen Sieve

Soil sampler

Rocks and Minerals:

Microcrystal kits

Mineral test kits (hardness, Hydrochloric acid, streak plates, etc)

Hand Lenses

Mohs’s Scale of hardness

Mineral Hand Samples

Rock type examples

Geologic History:

Fossil samples

Geologic Time Scales

Plate Tectonics:

Convection lab materials

Fault Blocks

Tectonic sandbox

Model seismometer

Air, Weather, and Climate:

Coriolis demonstration device

Cloud Apparatus (can be done with 2 liter bottles)

Water on Earth:

Secchi Disc

Porosity/Permeability lab materials

Field work:

Rock Hammer

Hand Lense

Bottle of dilute HCl

Weatherproof lab notebook


FULL Curriculum, including Daily activities outlined, a good example of a District aligned ESS program

Website maintained by Ann Arbor (MI) ESS teachers

Option 1

Begin with build/construct students' learning with concrete hands on activities (Mapping the Earth,  Rocks & Minerals) at the beginning of the year, followed with more abstract topics - (Climate, Astronomy)

1. Prologue: Basic skills

2. Earth’s Shape Measure the Earth

3. Rocks and minerals

4. Weathering, Erosion, Deposition, and Landforms

5. Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics

6. Earth’s History

7. Meteorology and Climate

8. Astronomy

Option 2

Facilitate students learning from big picture to looking inward.

In this model students start with Astronomy & end with Earth materials (rocks and minerals) Earths history & landscapes

1. Prologue

2. Earth’s Shape and Measure the Earth

3. Astronomy

4. Energy

5. Meteorology and Climate

6. Weather, Erosion and Deposition

7. Minerals and Rocks

8. Dynamic Crust and Earth’s Interior

9. Geologic History

10. Landscape Development and Environmental change

Option 3

The Tom Ervin Method

I always put a list of the topics on the screen, and said:
"These are the topics we are to cover this year.  Which ones do you want to do first?"

And the kids determined the order

The kids thought they were in control but by the end of the semester, we covered them all

Option 4

Year culminates towards focus on creating a curating citizen rather than a consumer

Starts large picture working towards the focus of the individual.  Starting at origins of science & universe; then how objects seen around us formed; understanding the larger cycles & how human choices / intervention can effect those choices, promoting in better sustainability 

Intro to Earth
- Intro to Scientific Method
- Intro to Scientific Terms
- Why Earth Science?

- History of Astronomy
- Welcome to the Solar System (Nebular Theory)
- Motion of Earth and Moon / Lunar Geology
- Planets
- The Study of Light / The Sun
- Stars and Beyond

Physical Geology
- Earth's Layers
- Minerals / Petrology
- Plate Tectonics
- Volcanoes
- Earthquakes
- Intro to Mapping
- Weathering
- Geologic Time 

- Pressure and Wind
- Weather Map Creation / Interpretation
- Air Mass and Fronts

Global Climate
- Glaciers
- Marine Life
- Ocean Currents
- The Atmosphere
- Greenhouse Effect
- Carbon Cycle / Nitrogen Cycle
- Regional Climate
- Global Climate
- Natural Resources - Energy
- Natural Resources - Water / Minerals 

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