ESS2 Earth Systems (Elementary)

Created by NASA Wavelength Last updated 7/17/2017

The investigations, lessons, and related resources listed below are taken from the NASA Wavelength collection as well as other sources. Each represents an opportunity to help students build their understanding of Earth and Space Sciences through student led investigations encompassing all three NGSS dimensions.
Customize this bundle by adding additional lessons and activities. To do so, simply register for a Wavelength account by clicking on the word “Register” on the right side of the blue bar above. Wavelength resources and external resources with URLs can be incorporated into your personalized list.

This list supports the following national standards:
Next Generation Science Standards

These bundled resources can be used to build toward a student understanding of ESS2: Earth Systems in all three dimensions.
  • Earth System in a Bottle

    Introduce K-4 grader students to the interdependence of Earth’s major systems. Students set up, observe, and record scientific changes occurring in a terrarium containing soil (geosphere), water (hydrosphere), air (atmosphere) and radishes (biosphere). Additional terrariums are set up to introduce the concept of “fair test”- and provide evidence that plant growth- the dependent variable- is affected by soil, water and light- the independent variables. Preparation, constructing terrariums, and sharing results will require two hours; observation periods require 15-20 minutes three times a week for two to four weeks.
    AAAS Benchmarks: , , , 1A/E2, 8A/P1bc, 5C/P2
  • MY NASA DATA: Basic Line Plots

    The weather phenomenon of “wind speed” is used to introduce students in grades 3-5 to line plots. Students engage in the practice of analyzing and interpreting a line plot of wind speed data, followed by an examination and comparison of the monthly average wind speed patterns of Virginia Beach, VA and the Bahamas. Allow 30-45 minutes to complete the activity. This resource also appears in the NSTA curated collection of NGSS-aligned resources. (Note: It is listed in the NSTA collection under the title: MY NASA DATA: Climate Graphs.)
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/E4, 9B/E2, 12B/E3
  • MY NASA DATA: Comparison of Snow Cover on Different Continents

    Snow cover, a component of Earth’s weather, is routinely observed and measured across all continents. Using that data from NASA’s Live Access Server, students create maps showing snow cover for each continent on a particular date. From those maps, students estimate each continent’s snow cover percentage. Both the related Science and Engineering Practices and Cross Cutting Concepts are integral to this 50-minute activity.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 3A/M2, 4B/M14, 9B/H4, 12B/H4
  • Elementary GLOBE

    Geared toward K-4 students, Elementary GLOBE introduces science concepts through storybooks and related classroom activities. Storybook titles include: Climate, Earth Systems, Clouds, Soils, Seasons, Water, and Aerosols. Time commitment for each Storybook varies by related activities- ranging from a few class periods to short durations (3-5 minutes) throughout the school year. GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is an international program promoting the scientific understanding of the Earth system and global environment.
  • Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms Collection: PBS LearningMedia

    New instructional modules contain digital media that address the content and practices in the K-12 Framework for Science Education and feature innovative media formats- including satellite images, data visualizations, and videos drawn from WGBH’s signature programs like NOVA and PEEP