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Status

Open

Estimated Completion Time

2 segments / 36 weeks

Overview

Be captivated by the wonders and beauty of the third planet from our Sun, Earth. Be amazed by what awaits your discovery within our solar system and beyond. It is your turn to explore the universe.

Earth/Space Science is a laboratory course focusing on the study of space, geologic structures and forces, the waters on our planet, and the atmospheric forces that shape our world. Through experimentation and investigation, students will explore the earth cycles including the geosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere, and the carbon cycle. Students will learn about scientific inquiry, geologic time, space exploration, the solar system, and the universe. Students will use web 2.0 tools, interactive experiences, higher-order thinking, collaborative projects, and real-world application through labs and a variety of assessments. Upon completion of the course, students will have a clear understanding of the dynamic forces at work in the world around them, becoming better caretakers of our planet, Earth.

 

Note: content varies depending on the course version. For currently enrolled students, please refer to the syllabus located in the course information area for curriculum specifics.

Major Topics and Concepts

 

Beginning with Science

  • Science processes
  • Observations and inferences
  • Historical frame of reference- scientists and explorers
  • Theory vs. law, science vs. pseudoscience
  • Cryosphere, Hydrosphere, Biosphere, Atmosphere, Geosphere

 

Segment 1

  • Climate and Meteorology
    • Structure of the atmosphere
    • Trends in temperature and atmospheric pressure
    • Factors influencing weather and climate
    • Humidity, air pressure, air masses, temperature, long term conditions
    • Global air circulation and winds, Coriolis effect
    • Severe weather formation, influence on human behavior
    • Severe Storms; Lightning (Honors)
  • Freshwater
    • Water cycle
    • Conservation (Honors)
    • Water Quality
    • Groundwater
    • Surface water
  • Rocks and Minerals
    • Properties of minerals
    • Rock cycle
    • Soil and soil formation
    • Rocks and minerals as resources
  • The Universe
    • Light waves
    • Space exploration
    • Gravitational forces
    • Stars and Constellations (Honors)

 

Segment 2

  • Geologic Time
    • Gregorian calendar
    • Relative and absolute time (Honors)
    • Origin and evolution of life
    • Geologic time scale, geologic periods and history
    • Fossils, fossil formation
    • Reading series of events in sedimentary rocks based on principles of geology
  • Oceans
    • Composition of ocean water
    • Ocean currents
    • Sea floor features
    • Using latitude and longitude to navigate and locate points on the globe/map reading
    • Climate and current connection
  • Our Solar System
    • Organization of the Milky Way and types of galaxies in general
    • Characteristics of stars – focus on ours – the sun
    • The planets in our solar system
    • Moon/Earth Relationships
    • Moon phases
    • Effects of the moon on tides
    • Kepler’s Law, Newton’s Law
    • Sun/Earth Relationships
    • Rotation and revolution characteristics
    • Causes of seasons
  • The Geosphere
    • Layers of the Earth
    • Carbon cycle
    • Plate tectonics
    • Continental drift
    • Surface features
    • Geologic events (Honors)

 

 

Career

Park Ranger

Status

Open

Estimated Completion Time

3-4 weeks

Competency

Weather and Climate: Student will demonstrate knowledge of Earth’s atmosphere by identifying its structure and composition, investigating the relationships between temperature, pressure and altitude, and analyzing data to determine weather patterns.

Project

You are a Park Ranger. You are creating a mountain weather safety manual for hikers. Your manual will explain the dangers of mountain weather by investigating the relationships of temperature, pressure, and altitude. Your manual will educate hikers about Earth’s atmosphere and how weather is created within the atmosphere.

Career

Emergency Management Risk Consultant

Status

Open

Estimated Completion Time

3-4 weeks

Competency

Earth’s Geosphere: Student will demonstrate an understanding of Earth’s geosphere and composition of Earth’s interior by explaining how Earth events, abruptly and over time, can bring about changes in Earth’s surface.

Project

You are an Emergency Management Risk Consultant. You have been asked to provide a presentation on Earth’s geosphere to your team so that they can study the risk of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In order to study the risks, you need to provide an understanding of the structural geology, mechanisms of movement, and geological events that affect earthquakes and volcanoes. Along with the presentation, you will produce two risk assessment checklists. One checklist will focus on earthquake risk and the other on volcano risk.

Career

Marine Navigator

Status

Open

Estimated Completion Time

3-4 weeks

Competency

Earth’s Oceans: Student will demonstrate understanding of Earth’s oceans by hypothesizing how ocean currents can affect our weather and climate by mapping their location and movement as well as collecting data to illustrate how the gravitational pull of the moon causes tides.

Project

You are a Marine Navigator for an international shipping company. As the marine navigator, you are responsible for finding the fastest, safest, and least expensive shipping route for your company’s vessel. You will need to consider ocean currents, weather, climate, and tidal factors to find the most ideal route.

Career

Career Counselor

Status

Open

Estimated Completion Time

3-4 weeks

Competency

Fresh Water System: Student will demonstrate understanding of the freshwater system by explaining the processes that cause cycling of water in our atmosphere and on Earth and identifying the natural and human processes that impact water quality.

Project

You are a Career Counselor at a university. The Dean of Science has asked you to create a booklet to help environmental science students understand water and water quality issues that pertain to the wide variety of careers related to water quality. Water quality impacts human health, livelihood, and economic activity. The booklet will need to provide a broad understanding for students, on how water quality is affected by natural and human impacts, and will identify a career.

Career

Curator

Status

Open

Estimated Completion Time

3-4 weeks

Competency

Geologic Time: Student will demonstrate understanding of Earth’s past by describing geologic time, summarizing the principles and laws by which geologists make assumptions about time, and using fossil evidence to infer events of the distant past.

Project

You are the Curator of a paleontological site’s visitor center. You are creating an exhibit about the history of fossil discovery and current fossil research for the general public. You will look closely into paleontological discoveries to understand geologic time, relative and absolute dating techniques, and how basic geologic principles are used in fossil research.

Career

Energy Auditor

Status

Open

Estimated Completion Time

3-4 weeks

Competency

Matter and Energy: Student will demonstrate understanding of matter and energy by researching the properties of atoms and elements as well as explaining the laws of conservation of matter and energy using specific data and examples.

Project

You are an Energy Auditor for a television show like Extreme Home Makeover. Your team is updating an old Victorian house. You are are responsible for recommending the best heating options and recommending updates to improve the heating efficiency of the house.

Career

Geologist

Status

Open

Estimated Completion Time

3-4 weeks

Competency

Rocks and Minerals: Student will demonstrate understanding of rocks and minerals by examining the physical characteristics of rocks and minerals and using this information to draw conclusions about the rock’s history and connection to the rock cycle.

Project

You are a Geologist attending the Geological Society Annual Conference. You have been chosen to present information about interesting rocks and rock formations. You will act as a virtual tour guide by creating a slide presentation that takes your audience to different parts of the United States where significant rocks and rock formations exist. You recognize that every rock tells a story, and you will want to choose the minerals, rocks, and, rock formations with the most interesting stories for your tour.

Career

Scriptwriter

Status

Open

Estimated Completion Time

3-4 weeks

Competency

Solar System: Student will demonstrate understanding of the solar system by explaining how physical forces have impacted our solar system both during its formation and the present day, and by observing how the temporal and spatial interrelationships amongst the distinct parts of the solar system create phenomena such as moon phases, seasons and eclipses.

Project

You are a Scriptwriter for a Planetarium. You have been asked to prepare a script and slideshow. Your job is to explain the formation of the solar system, characteristics of objects in the solar system, eclipses, moon phases and the seasons.

Career

Astronomy Researcher

Status

Open

Estimated Completion Time

3-4 weeks

Competency

The Universe: Student will demonstrate understanding of the universe by investigating a variety of technologies used by astronomers and analyzing laboratory data to explain the origins and contents of the universe, including stars and galaxies.

Project

You are a Astronomy Program Director for a major research university. You will write a proposal to the National Science Foundation grant committee to support research in the origin of stars and galaxies.

In your budget, you will need to specify tools to purchase, such as optical telescopes, radio telescopes, satellites, unmanned probes, or manned spacecrafts (depending on what you feel will be most useful).

Status

Open

Experiences allow students to demonstrate mastery of competencies through various real-world or hands-on learning opportunities, such as travel, service learning, independent study, internships or entrepreneurship. During an experience, students elect to meet all or some of the competencies in a particular competency group (ie. English 1, Economics, Biology, …), as an alternative to taking the course. Each experience is customized to the student’s opportunity. The student works with a VLACS instructor to determine deliverables that demonstrate mastery of the competencies and secures an outside expert to enrich the experience.

In Experiences students will:

  1. Meet weekly with their instructor.
  2. Secure an outside expert.
  3. Plan the experience prior to completing it. Credit is not awarded for experiences completed prior to enrollment and completion of the planning process.
  4. For many experiences, spend time at a business or other location.

Types of Experiences:

Independent Study

By signing up for an independent study, you will be able to direct your own learning, identifying what you want to learn and how you will demonstrate that you have mastered your learning objectives.

Internship

Internships allow you to gain professional experience, make connections, and become familiar with a career while working on site with mentors and professionals in a career of your interest.

Travel

While travel can be a great experience for learning life lessons, it is also an excellent way to acquire the knowledge and skills that allow you to demonstrate mastery in a variety of competencies. The world is a classroom and travel experiences will connect your real-world experiences to the learning that you seek.

Service Learning

In-Service Learning, you collaborate with members of your community to address issues to improve your community. You will connect your service with discipline-specific content so that learning can take place through problem solving and collaboration.

Entrepreneurship

Starting your own business is a great way to learn. This type of experience allows you to engage in an entrepreneurial experience and receive credit for competencies you master through this experience.

Credits 1

Only Earth Space Science Experience earns a badge.

Competencies

  • Matter and Energy
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of matter and energy by describing the atomic structure and forces, explaining the phases and transformations of matter, and relating the processes of energy transference to the phases of matter.
  • Climate and Weather
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of climate and weather by explaining the water cycle, describing Earth’s atmosphere, and comparing weather and climate.
  • Fresh Water
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of fresh water by describing freshwater systems, explaining water quality, and describing water conservation.
  • Our Universe
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of our universe by describing features of the universe, summarizing the exploration and origins of our universe, and explaining stars and elements.
  • Rocks and Minerals
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of rocks and minerals by explaining mineral identification, describing the rock formation and the implications of mining, and evaluating soil characteristics and classification.
  • Geologic Time
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of geologic time by explaining the geologic time scale, differentiating theories on the origin and evolution of life, and describing the coevolution of Earth’s systems.
  • The Oceans
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of the oceans by describing the characteristics of the oceans, comparing ocean movements, and explaining ocean interactions.
  • Our Solar System
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of our solar system by describing solar system formation, explaining the forces in our solar system, describing celestial objects, and explaining the Earth-sun-moon system.
  • The Geosphere
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of the geosphere by describing the composition and structure of the geosphere, explaining the carbon cycle, and differentiating plate movement and boundaries.

Pre-Requisites

None

Honors

Course: To complete the honors version of this offering, you must discuss this with your instructor during your welcome call.

Project/Experience: Honors is awarded by earning "Exceeds" on all rubric assessments.

Attend a virtual open house

We offer regular online open house webinars where VLACS staff members provide parents and students with an overview of our programs and answer questions about online learning.