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October 23, 2022 at 1:07:33 PM


The Earth and Space Sciences (NGSS) program is designed to help teachers provide their students with a high-quality, standards-based science education. The Earth and Space Sciences program is built on the assumption that all students can achieve scientific literacy. Scientific literacy is the ability to use scientific knowledge to understand and solve problems in the real world.

The organization of ESS content can be complex, due to its broad scope and interdisciplinary nature. In this section, we begin by discussing the largest spatial scales of the universe and then move toward smaller scales with a more anthropocentric focus. Therefore, the first core idea, ESS1: Earth’s Place in the Universe, encompasses the universe as a whole. It addresses its grand scale in both space and time, including the overall structure, composition, and history of the universe; the forces and processes by which the solar system operates; and Earth’s planetary history.

The second core idea, ESS2: Earth’s Systems, encompasses the processes that drive Earth’s conditions and its continual evolution (i.e., change over time). It addresses the planet’s large-scale structure and composition, describes its individual systems, and explains how they are interrelated. It also focuses on the mechanisms driving Earth’s internal motions and on the vital role that water plays in all of the planet’s systems and surface processes.

The third core idea, ESS3: Earth and Human Activity, addresses society’s interactions with the planet. Connecting the ESS to the intimate scale of human life, this idea explains how Earth’s processes affect people through natural resources and natural hazards, and it describes as well some of the ways in which humanity in turn affects Earth’s processes. See Box 7-1 for a summary of the core and component ideas.