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Earth Systems, 4th Quarter

00.0 Start Here - Introduction to this Class (Earth Systems)

Course Description

Life and physical science content are integrated in a curriculum with two primary goals:

  1. students will value and use science as a process of obtaining knowledge based on observable evidence, and
  2. students' curiosity will be sustained as they develop the abilities associated with scientific inquiry.

This course builds upon students' experience with integrated science in grades seven and eight and is the springboard course for success in biology, chemistry, geology, and physics.

The theme for Earth Science is systems and is the organizing concept to understand life on Earth, geological change, and the interaction of atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Earth Science provides students with an understanding of how the parts of a system through the study of the Earth's cycles and spheres. Earth's place in the universe as well its internal structure, tectonic plates, atmospheric processes, and hydrosphere are explored to help understand how Earth science interacts with society.

Class Overview

Welcome to the Electronic High School's Earth Systems science course! Welcome to the Electronic High School's Earth Systems science course. Earth Systems is an exciting course that offers you the opportunity to study Earth, physical, space, and life sciences as they relate to each other. Earth has a myriad of complex, interacting, and, might I add, fascinating, systems that directly influence our lives. These interacting, fascinating systems are the focus of this course.

The course is a science course therefore you can expect to take field trips, design and conduct experiments, and do laboratory work in addition to the usual reading, writing, and research assignments, all from the comfort and convenience of your own home. There is NO official text for the class. All necessary information can be found online. All necessary supplies are easily accessible either at home or from your local store. As an Electronic High School Earth Systems student, you will be actively involved in your learning. Expect to experience many new things. Upon completion of the course, you will see the world in new ways. WHAAA-WHOO!


  • To view your grades for the course, click on the “Grades” link on the front page of the class.
  • When I correct your assignment, I will assign a grade and will write a comment. To see your grade and read my comments, click on the “Grades” icon, as directed above.
  • You may do the assignments in any order, as long as you save the last assignment for last.


  • The bulk of the course is in Module 3 on the front page of the class.  Read about the assignment, look at the suggested webs, and view any multimedia presentations that may be associated with the assignment.
  • Do the assignment on your computer. Use your programs (Word, WordPerfect, Excel, PowerPoint, Mac programs, etc…) to create your assignments.
  • Save your assignment on your computer’s hard drive or on a disk.
  • Go back to the Earth Systems web site.
  • Go to Module 3 and click the assignment's title.
  • At the end of each assignment is a “Edit my submission” icon. Click on this icon, even if you have no yet written anything. A box will appear. Cut and paste your assignment into that box if your assignment has only text.
  • OR, if your assignment has more than just writing (graphs, Powerpoint, illustrations, etc…) then you can upload a file. To do this, click “Edit my submission” and “Save changes” to submit what you have written in the box. Then click “Browse”. This will let you find your file on your computer. When you have found the file you want to submit, click “Upload this file”.
  • You may save the document to work on later or submit it.
  • When you are confident your assignment is ready to send to me, click “Save changes”.
  • Occasionally you may need to mail me assignments. To send assignments by mail, email me and ask for my address.
  • Always keep a copy of your assignments. Sometimes assignments are lost in cyber-space. For your protection, always save a copy of your assignments on your hard drive or on a disk.
  • If you have questions, you may e-mail me.


  • I correct e-mailed assignments within 48 hours of receiving them---unless you submit an assignment on the weekend. I do not work Saturday and never on Sunday. When I correct your assignment I will reply to it with a score and comments if needed. Mailed assignments take longer, up to two or three weeks. I also return mailed assignments with a comment and score.
  • I will NOT accept incomplete assignments. If you submit an incomplete or unacceptable assignment I will return it to you with instructions on what you need to do to earn credit for the assignment.
  • If you are not satisfied with your score, you may re-submit assignments. You can always correct and re-submit assignments for a better score.
  • I grade on a scale of 1 to 10.
    • Assignments that receive a "10/10, A" score have more than is required. You have written more than was necessary, added a graphic or illustration, or in some way "gone the extra mile".
    • Assignments that earn a "9/10, A" have completely filled all requirements; have answered every question correctly.
    • Assignments that have only a few things wrong earn an "8/10, B".
    • Mediocre assignments earn a "7/10, C".
    • Anything less than mediocre I will send back to you to re-do.
  • You will not earn credit for the quarter until you have done ALL the assignments.
  • When you have completed ALL the assignments you will be eligible to take the final exam for the quarter.
  • I will determine your quarter grade by averaging the scores of all the assignment grades and adding your final exam score.
  • You cannot earn more than one letter grade higher in the class than you earned on the final exam. For example, if you earn a “D” on the final exam, the highest grade you can earn in the class is a “C”.
  • You cannot re-take the final exam.
  • You MUST pass the final exam to earn credit for the course.
  • If you fail the final exam, you will have to re-take a modified version of the course before you can take the final exam again. The modified version of the course is generally more text-based and less activity oriented.

WHEW! That was a LOT of stuff!

Thank you for enrolling in Earth Systems. We are about to embark on an exciting adventure and I am looking forward to our journey together. I hope to read from you soon!

Now that you have finished reading this, please do to the first assignment, "About Me".

When you are ready to turn in assignments, please submit them in the Assignments, Quizzes, Tests section of the course.


00.00.01 About Me (Earth Systems)

teacher-scored 10 points possible 20 minutes

The About Me assignment is fun and unique.

As you complete the assignment I am looking for the following things in your introduction.

  1. Name
  2. Current high school and counselor name
  3. Parent e-mail
  4. 3 Interesting facts or hobbies about you
  5. Goal for completing this quarter
  6. An introduction to you through the eyes of your real or imaginary pet


Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 1 of your enrollment date for this class.

00.00.02 Charting the Course (Earth Systems)

computer-scored 10 points possible 30 minutes

Have you ever noticed that every teacher has different rules and expectations? It is so easy to get confused and “off course” when trying to navigate different classes in this “river” we call the Electronic High School. This assignment is designed to help you “stay on course” in Earth Systems.


  • Read (or re-read) the START HERE page.
  • Using the information there, answer the questions on the quiz (found under Topic 3 on the main class page). Choose the best answer for each question.

You may take the quiz as many times as you need to, but you MUST score 100%.

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 1 of your enrollment date for this class.

00.01.01 Student Software Needs


Students need access to a robust internet connection and a modern web browser.

This class may also require the Apple QuickTime plug-in to view media.

For students using a school-issued Chromebook, ask your technical support folks to download the QuickTime plug-in and enable the plug-in for your Chromebook.


04.00 Energy (Earth Systems)

There are nine assignments in the fourth quarter. One of the assignments (4.8) is very long. It is equivalent to five "normal" assignments. You must do ALL of the assignments and pass the final test to earn .25 fourth quarter credit.

Ninth Grade Integrated Science focuses on the theme of "Earth Systems." Earth, physical, space, and life science content are integrated in a curriculum with two primary goals:

* Students will value and use science as a process of obtaining knowledge based on observable evidence.
* Students will develop an understanding of interactions and interdependence within and between Earth systems and changes in Earth systems over time.

04.01 Solar Power--Describe pathway for converting solar energy (Earth Systems)

04.01 robot04.01 robot

Energy is not created nor destroyed. I am sure you have heard that plenty of times. What does it mean? We talk about using energy; if energy is used up, then how can we say that it is not destroyed?

The secret to understanding energy use is to understand that energy is used but not used up! Do you understand the difference? Energy does not change in amount, but it changes form very easily. When we use energy, we do not use it up. Instead we change its form. For example, consider the energy coming from the sun. It is radiant energy. When the sun’s energy hits the desert soil in southern Utah it changes form to become heat energy. The amount of energy does not change but the type of energy changes.
04.01 Desert sunset04.01 Desert sunset

The heat energy of the desert warms the surrounding air. The warm air rises which causes wind. Some of the energy dissipates out to space in the form of heat (it does NOT return to the sun), and some of the energy changes form to become energy of motion as the wind blows.

The electrical energy may be used in a light bulb, in which case it is changed to light energy.
04.01 light bulb04.01 light bulb
Remember that energy flows from the sun, through the various Earth systems and eventually flows to space in the form of heat. When heat energy flows to space, it is lost to us. The energy is still there but it is not in a form that is useful to us. Because it is not useful to us, I call it "lost." In reality, it is not lost. It is still there but it may as well be lost to us because we cannot use it again.

Radiation is the movement of energy in rays. The sun’s energy comes to Earth in the form of radiation. . So, how much radiation energy do we get from the sun? Every day, more energy falls on the U.S. than we use in an entire year. The total amount of solar energy per year falling on the continental 48 states is 1.37 * 1016 kW-h/year - or 46,700 Quads/year - of solar energy. Compare this to 94.2 Quad/year, the rate of energy consumption in the 1997 ( Ref: Renewable Energy Annual 1998, DOE/IEA-0603(98), pg 1.) Every day more solar energy falls to the Earth than the total amount of energy the planet's 5.9 billion inhabitants would consume in 27 years (see first URL) . That is a lot of energy! What happens to that energy?

About 30% of the sun’s energy is reflected or bounced back immediately to outer space in the form of light. It never makes it to Earth. Clouds reflect back about 25% of the sun’s energy, and snow, ice, and other reflective ground surfaces send back an additional 5%.

So, how much of the sunlight that comes toward Earth actually makes it to Earth? Do the math. Take the 30% that is reflected back and subtract it from the original 100% and you get: 70%. Good job. The remaining 70% of the sunlight that reaches Earth is absorbed, or taken in. This absorption occurs in many ways. The atmosphere absorbs twenty-five percent (25%). Forty-five percent (45 %) is absorbed by the Earth’s surfaces. Of that 45%, about 16% is immediately re-radiated as heat, 24% evaporates water, and 5% powers our winds.

Most of the sunlight that reaches the Earth is absorbed by water and solid materials and immediately converted to heat. Think of asphalt in the late afternoon of a sunny day. It has definitely absorbed some of the sun’s energy. HOT! Or remember the warmth of the sun’s rays on your back. The energy in the sunlight was changed to heat energy which warmed you. Any material that is heated by the sun will then radiate that heat outwards. You do it, the asphalt does it, everything that is heated by the sun eventually loses that heat as it radiates back out. Eventually that heat radiates through the atmosphere and leaves the Earth to become “lost in space”.

A large amount of the solar energy that arrives on Earth powers the water cycle.

Plants capture a tiny but very important amount of the sun’s energy, about 0.08%.

There you have it. Energy is never created or destroyed. It does not increase or decrease in amount. It does, however, change from one form to another. Energy flows through the Earth’s systems. It changes form but it does NOT recycle. The solar energy absorbed by Earth eventually changes to heat energy that is “lost in space”.
04.01 leaf04.01 leaf
Through the process called photosynthesis, plants convert the sun’s energy to chemical energy. The energy is stored in the chemical bonds of the sugars formed in plants. Those of us who eat plants change the chemical energy in the food to body heat. We lose body heat all the time. Guess where that heat goes? Eventually it leaves the atmosphere and is “lost in space.”

04.01 water cycle04.01 water cycle

Water absorbs the sun’s energy and evaporates to become a gas in the atmosphere. When the water vapor condenses back into a liquid (rain) or solid (snow, sleet), the same amount of energy that was absorbed to evaporate the water is released as it condenses. The energy is released as heat that escapes the atmosphere and is “lost in space”.

Or it may be used in a toaster, in which case it may be changed to heat energy. In all cases, the energy is not destroyed. It simply changes form. Eventually, the energy we receive from the sun is changed to heat energy and is lost to space.

04.01 windmill04.01 windmill

We could go even further and pretend that the wind energy moves the blades of a windmill where there is a generator. The generator changes the wind’s energy of motion to electricity, another form of energy. Notice that in all of these steps, energy is not destroyed. It changes from one form to another but it is not destroyed or used up.

04.01 Solar Power--Describe pathway for converting solar energy (Earth Systems)

04.01 Solar Power--Describe pathway for converting solar energy (Earth Systems)

teacher-scored 10 points possible 60 minutes


There are TWO parts to this assignment. You must do BOTH parts to receive credit for the assignment. 

1. Create a diagram that illustrates the distribution of energy coming from the sun that is reflected, changed to heat, or stored in plants. Use the data in the preceding paragraphs to create your diagram. * You may use whatever medium is best for you to create your diagram. * You can create a diagram on your computer and email it to me. * You can draw a diagram, scan it, and email it to me.

* You can create a poster or drawing and upload it.

2. Describe the pathway for converting radiant energy from the sun to the chemical energy that is stored in gasoline and used to transport you to school (or on a date or to a concert or wherever you want to go).

* Remember that gasoline comes from plant material that has been subjected to heat and pressure when it was buried deep in the Earth.

* Be sure to include the word "photosynthesis" in your description.

* All the information necessary to complete this assignment is available to you as you think about what is written in the paragraphs above and apply what you have learned to what you already know about energy pathways. You may submit your description in writing. Use proper punctuation, grammar, and spelling.

* Or you may submit your description as a diagram. If you create a diagram, you must label each energy conversion. (light to heat or light to chemical, etc…). Also, if you create a diagram, you may submit it to me in any of the forms mentioned in #1.

* The Energy Quest website in the URLs will help you understand the sun to gasoline process.


Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 2 of your enrollment date for this class.

04.02 Absorb or Reflect--Which material reflects the most energy? (Earth Systems)




Obviously, solar energy does not stay in the same form as it flows through the Earth system. Energy from the sun enters the Earth system as sunbeams and exits the Earth system as heat. What happens to it in between? (A very good question, my clever student!) Energy is transferred from one form to another as it flows through the Earth system. For example, energy enters the atmosphere as sunlight. When the sunlight strikes an apple tree leaf, the energy is absorbed and some of it is transferred, through photosynthesis, to chemical energy that is stored in the form of sugar. When you eat that apple, some of the energy stored in the sugar is transferred, through cellular respiration, to the kinetic energy that you use to dance all night at the Prom. Dancing, in turn, causes some of your energy to be transferred to heat energy which warms up the gym and eventually flows out of the Earth’s systems into space.

As you know, energy undergoes many changes as it flows through the Earth’s system. In this assignment, you will examine how light energy from the sun is converted into heat energy by various materials. Some materials tend to absorb solar energy and convert the solar energy to heat. Other materials are more effective at reflecting solar energy.


04.02 thermometers04.02 thermometers04.02 plastic cups04.02 plastic cups

* four thermometers if possible.
* If you can only find one thermometer, then be sure that the thermometer returns to room temperature between each temperature reading.
* If you do not have thermometers, then use margarine. With margarine you will be taking a relative temperature, rather than an absolute temperature. The location where the margarine melts the fastest is the hottest, the second-fastest melting margarine is the second-hottest, and so forth.
* white construction paper
* black construction paper
* aluminum foil
* four plastic cups

* graph paper
* colored pencils.

04.02 Absorb or Reflect--Which material reflects the most energy? (Earth Systems)

teacher-scored 10 points possible 120 minutes


· Cover each cup with a different material: white paper, black construction paper, aluminum foil, and one with no covering.

· Fill each plastic cup two-thirds full of water that is about room temperature.

· Place a thermometer in each cup. (Or margarine, if you don’t have thermometers.)

· Place all four containers in sunlight for sixty minutes.

· Take temperature readings initially and every five minutes. (Or estimate the percentage of margarine that is melted in each cup.)

· Write down your data on a table.

Send me the following. Use complete sentences to answer the questions.

1. Your data table.

2. Make a graph of your data. Plot each container's data on the same graph (temperature vs. time) in a different color.

3. What were the temperature readings for each of the containers when you started?

4. What were the temperature readings for each container at the end of the time?

5. How do the initial readings compare with the final readings?

6. What happened to the energy that arrived in the form of sunlight?

7. What evidence do you have that sunlight was reflected or absorbed?

8. If all of the cups received the same amount of sunlight then how can you explain why they have different temperatures?

9. Predict what will happen to the heat energy that was absorbed by the water in the cups. Use your knowledge about how energy is absorbed or reflected to answer the following questions.

10. Apply your knowledge about how the various materials reflect and absorb sunlight to common situations.

For example, most people living in Africa wear white or light colored clothing because it reflects sunlight and is therefore cooler. Give three examples of HOW various materials are used to absorb or reflect sunlight.

11. Why is it usually cooler in the country than it is in the city?

12. If plants absorb sunlight why don’t they produce a large amount of heat? What energy conversion is taking place in plants?

13. Explain how the transfer of solar energy affects the atmospheric system.

14. Explain how the transfer of solar energy affects the hydrologic system.

15. Explain how the transfer of solar energy affects the geologic system.

16. Explain how the transfer of solar energy affects the biologic system.


Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 2 of your enrollment date for this class.

04.03 Design your own experiment (Earth Systems)



As far as Earthlings are concerned, solar power is where it is at. Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, X- Men--All of the super heroes have super powers, but none of their powers hold a candle to the sun’s power. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, our sun is THE super power. With it, we live. Without it, we die.

The sun is the major source of Earth’s energy. Some of the solar radiation that reaches the Earth is reflected but most is absorbed. Gases in the atmosphere trap some of the heat energy and delay radiation into space. The greenhouse effect retains energy longer in the Earth system. Currents in the atmosphere and hydrosphere distribute solar heat energy. These currents help determine global and local weather and climate patterns. Photosynthesis uses a small but vital part of the total solar energy for the biosphere. This energy is stored in the chemical bonds of sugars formed in plants.

04.03 Design your own experiment (Earth Systems)

teacher-scored 10 points possible 120 minutes


You have just completed an activity that investigated the energy absorption properties of various materials. Now your task is to design and conduct an experiment that investigates the interaction between energy and an aspect of any of the four spheres.

WOW! How exciting is that!

You get to choose. And the world is your laboratory. The options are limitless. All you have to do is choose something from a sphere (biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere or geosphere) and design an experiment that explores how energy interacts with something from that sphere.

I will give you an example of an experiment that explores the relationship between energy and plants (a part of the biosphere). THIS IS ONLY AN EXAMPLE. You may NOT use this experiment for this assignment. [Most of you did this experiment in elementary school!]

Plants, through photosynthesis, capture the sun’s radiant energy and convert it to chemical energy. The chemical energy in plants is stored in food. When you eat food, you are eating converted solar energy. Some foods have more stored energy than others. The question might be “Which type of food, peanuts or bread, contains the most stored solar energy?” The hypothesis might be “If burned, then the peanut will release more energy than the bread.”

A sample experimental plan could be:

1. Get two different glass quart canning jars and put 0.5 liter of water in each jar.

2. Label one jar “Bread”. Label the other jar “Peanut”.

3. Get a large peanut.

4. Get a piece of bread that is the same size as the peanut.

5. Put the “Bread” jar on the top rack of the outdoor grill.

6. Take the temperature of the water in the “Bread” jar.

7. Record the temperature.

8. Put on safety glasses or protective eyewear of some kind.

9. Hold the piece of bread in a pair of tweezers and VERY CAREFULLY light it on fire.

10. QUICKLY put the burning bread under the “Bread” jar and leave it there until it is completely burned. 11. Measure the temperature of the water in the “Bread” jar.

12. Record the temperature.

13. Repeat steps 5-12 with the “Peanut” jar and the peanut.

14. Subtract the initial water temperature from the water temperature after the bread and peanut were burned to find out how much heat was released.

See how easy it is? Remember, you cannot do an experiment with energy, peanuts, and bread for two reasons.

One, you already know what the result will be. You probably did this already in elementary school.

Two, I have already outlined the experiment. Part of what you need to learn in this class is how to design your own experiment. You cannot learn that by doing an experiment that I have already designed!

So, off you go. Be creative. Design your own experiment. But wait! Be sure to read the directions below before you do anything!


· Whatever you decide


1. Determine what you want to find out when you do your experiment. Write down the QUESTION that you are trying to answer. · If you are having trouble coming up with a question, think of the many things associated with energy Air currents Water currents Reflection of radiation Absorption of radiation Conversion of radiation to other forms of energy such as food, heat, etc Once you have decided on which aspect of the energy that you would like to investigate, then start brainstorming about things that would influence that aspect. For example, you could investigate melting rates of different things—Which melts more quickly, milk or dark chocolate? Or insulation properties--Does wet wool really insulate better than wet cotton? Or the dynamics of air currents--Would perfume sprayed over a heat source dissipate more rapidly than perfume sprayed over a cold source. Try to think of your own question. The possibilities are limitless.

2. Predict what you think the outcome of your experiment will be. (Hypothesis)

3. Design an experiment to test your prediction. Remember to include a control. Be very specific. Tell me exactly what you plan to do. Tell me how much of everything you plan on using. Tell me how long you plan on running the experiment and how often you will check it. Tell me how you will record your data. I want details!

4. Stop! Submit your experimental design to me before going any further. I will give you feedback on your design within three days. If the design is scientifically sound, you may go ahead and conduct your experiment. If it has flaws, we will work together until you have designed a valid, reliable experiment---then you may go ahead and conduct your experiment. 

5. AFTER you have received my go-ahead, conduct your experiment. Be sure to keep detailed lab notes. Your lab notes should contain a record of everything you did as well as all the data you collected. Each entry should have a date on it (month/day/year).

6. Follow the directions below to submit your assignment.


1. Re-send me your original question, your hypothesis, and your experimental plan.

2. Send me your lab notes. I want to the observations that you recorded. Do not simply send me a summary of your results. I want to see a record of your observations. Be sure to include dates and measurements.

3. Based on your observations, write a conclusion. What does your data tell you? What did you learn from your experimental results?

4. What kind of relationships did you find between energy and the aspect of the sphere you studied?

5. Do your findings support your hypothesis? Why or why not?

6. If you were to do this again, what would you change? Why?

7. What additional experiments could be performed? 

Please, send me the information requested in analysis questions.


Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 3 of your enrollment date for this class.

04.04 Climate, Weather, and Currents (Earth Systems)

04.04 weather map04.04 weather map


What is a current? Think of a fast-flowing river. We say it has a fast current. A current is a “moving stream of water, air, electricity, etc….”. Rivers have moving streams of water. Our global atmosphere has moving streams of air. The world’s oceans have moving streams of water. These currents help determine global and local weather and climate patterns. In this assignment we will study the causes and effects of air and ocean currents.

04.04 Climate, Weather, and Currents (Earth Systems)

04.04 Climate, Weather, and Currents (Earth Systems)

teacher-scored 10 points possible 120 minutes


Read the information on the web sites and answer the questions. Use complete sentences to answer all the questions.

About Climate and Weather  Go to "Climate Concepts".  (See URL above.)

1. What is weather?

2. What is the weather right now where you live?

3. What is climate?

4. Describe the climate where you live.


About Air Currents  

The sun’s rays hit the equator directly. The sun’s rays hit the polar regions at an angle. Therefore, the equator receives a much larger amount and intensity of solar radiation than the Polar Regions do. As a result, the equator is much hotter than the North and South Pole. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

Well, if the equator is hotter than the poles, then the air over the equator will be warmed more than the air over the poles, right? Right. So, we know that warm air rises. When the warm air at the equator rises, then something must take its place. Cooler air from the poles moves in. The cooler air is then warmed, and the convection cycle continues. This movement of air is called an air current. These air currents move heat energy around Earth. Air currents generally move from the poles toward the equator at the Earth’s surface.

Of course this is a very simplistic model of what happens. In reality, air currents are affected by the rotation of the Earth, the Earth’s topography, and ocean currents.

Go to "Air Currents and Climate".  (See URL above.)  Watch the animation.

5. What causes global air currents?

6. Why are there three different convection currents in our atmosphere?

7. How do global air currents affect biome distribution?  Explain how air currents influence THREE different biomes.


About Ocean Currents

Heat energy is also moved around the Earth by ocean currents. Ocean currents affect the climate even here in Utah. Go to "Ocean Currents" (see URL above) and read the information there.

8. What are currents?

9. Identify 3 causes of ocean currents.

10. What are the two main ocean current systems?

11. What is the main cause of surface currents?

12. What is the Coriolis Effect?

13. What happens to objects that move from the equator to higher latitudes?

14. What is the Coriolis deflection in the northern hemisphere?

15. What ocean current transports huge amounts of heat to the poles?

16.  Write THREE facts about the ocean global conveyor belt.

17. In your own words, briefly describe how the global conveyor belt works

18. What is upwelling?

19.  Why is upwelling important to fisher people?

20.  How do currents inflence climate?

21.  How could global climate change affect currents?


To understand weather, one must also understand the topography of an area.

04.04 mountain04.04 mountain Topography refers to the surface features of a land mass. The topography of the Wasatch Front is mountainous. The topography of southeastern Utah is more flat. Like ocean currents and air currents, topography influences weather patterns.

22. How does topography affect weather where you live?


Whew! You are done with this assignment.

Congratulations! Now, send me the answers to the above questions. Make sure you have written your answers in complete sentences.


Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 4 of your enrollment date for this class.

04.05 Extinctions (Earth Systems)

Who Dunnit?

Who dunnit? Who killed off the dinosaurs? Or, more accurately, "What dunnit"? What caused the major extinctions of the past? Did you know there have been five major extinctions in the Earth's history? How many species were eliminated in those extinctions? What do scientists believe caused the major extinctions? Your task is to find out!
04.05 dinosaur bones04.05 dinosaur bones
Put on your detective hat and go to work! The Earth is a crime scene. Five times, something has caused a huge amount of species on Earth to become extinct. Most alarming of all, there are indications that the sixth and biggest extinction of all is occurring now. What happened before? What is happening now?

Your job is to find out!

04.05 Extinctions (Earth Systems)

teacher-scored 10 points possible 60 minutes


Okay, Investigator---here is your assignment. Find answers to the following mysteries:

HINT: A good investigator does NOT make up facts. A good investigator INVESTIGATES.

Do not simply answer the questions below out of your head. Research the information. The websites listed below (scroll down past the questions...) will help.

Use complete sentences to answer the following questions.

1. What were the dates of the last five major extinctions? (Write your answer in millions of years ago.)

2. Describe, as best you can, what types of species were lost in each extinction, AND what percentage of total species were lost.

3. What do scientists think was the overall, major reason the extinctions occurred?

4. What do scientists think may have caused the major climate changes that caused most of the extinctions? (List several possible reasons.)

5. What causes species to go extinct today?

6. How is the current extinction different from extinctions of the past?

7. Many people believe that the current extinction is entirely human caused. Do you agree or disagree? Why? There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Use your brain. Think. Decide whether you agree or disagree with the author. Then write down at least two sentences telling why you agree or disagree. This is the most important question of the assignment. Do NOT neglect to answer it.

When you have answered all the questions, submit your answers to me. I look forward to hearing from you. Use complete sentences to answer your questions.


Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 4 of your enrollment date for this class.

04.06 Space Text book (Earth Systems)

Found in Space!


You started out fourth quarter describing energy that is “Lost in Space”. (Remember assignment 4.3?) Now, at the end of fourth quarter you’ll describe information that is “Found in Space”. Lost and found--Sounds like someplace you’d look for your missing yo-yo!
04.06 yo-yo04.06 yo-yo
Well, I know where my favorite yo-yo is, and hopefully you do too. But, do you know how scientists learned about the universe? Or how scientists believe the universe began? What about how stars are born and die? Or how Earth compares to other planets? You will find this, and other information, in the assignment that follows. Hang on and enjoy your intellectual journey to see you what you can find in (or about) space.

To this point, we have studied Earth’s various sub-systems (I’m sure that by now you can recite them in your sleep; water system, geologic system, atmospheric system, biologic system). Now we will examine the Earth as a part of a larger system.

Earth is a part of the solar system. The solar system is a component of the system we call the Milky Way Galaxy.
04.06 galaxy04.06 galaxy
Our galaxy is part of the universe as we know it, and who knows what part the universe plays in an even greater whole? As a member of these systems, the Earth both affects and is affected by its celestial neighbors. In fact, the Earth itself exists thanks to interactions that occurred millions of years ago in our “corner” of the universe. It is your job to document these interactions.

04.06 Space Text book (Earth Systems)

Remember: Do NOT copy the text from these Internet sites word for word. I have read the information on the sites. I will recognize it if you cut and paste it into your text. You will FAIL the assignment if you cut and paste the information from the sites into your textbook. You MUST write it in your own words.

04.06 Space Text book (Earth Systems)

teacher-scored 50 points possible 700 minutes


This is a BIG project. You are to write a textbook that documents many of the components of the space systems of which Earth is a part. Your textbook will contain four chapters, as outlined below.

Your text must:

· Be written in your own words (that means it should be easily understood by the typical high school freshman)

· Cover ALL of the information required

· Include illustrations and diagrams.

· Be scientifically accurate

· Be referenced. You MUST cite all information sources you use, including the addresses of all Internet sites.

· Include THREE multiple-choice questions for each chapter. The multiple-choice questions must have answers with them. Each chapter is worth 10 points. The entire project is worth 50 points. (10 points for the information included in each of the four chapters and an additional 10 points for having illustrations and multiple choice questions.)

Suggested Internet sites will be given for each chapter (see the URL's). You may use these sites, but you do not have to. You may use any sources of information available to you, provided that you reference them. Each chapter will probably be about three pages long.

You should include enough information to adequately cover the subject but I certainly do not expect a major research paper on each topic.

I STRONGLY suggest that you complete the first chapter and send it to me before working on the remaining three chapters. I will review your work and will tell you whether what you have done is satisfactory or if you need to invest more time and effort into your work. You may give your FOUR chapters any title of your choosing, but the contents of your chapters must be as follows:

Chapter One: The History of Cosmology

Cosmology is the scientific study of the large-scale properties of the Universe as a whole. Over the centuries, mankind’s ideas about the nature of the universe have changed significantly. In this chapter you will describe how the accepted ideas regarding the nature of the universe have changed in science throughout history.

In your chapter, include explanations of the ideas of the following individuals:

· The ancient Greeks · Ptolemy · Copernicus · Galileo · Kepler · Newton · Hubble · Einstein · ALSO, identify at least two examples of how technology has helped scientists investigate the universe. (HINT: The telescope is an example of technology.)

Do NOT copy the text from your sources word for word. I have read the information on the sites. I will recognize it if you cut and paste it into your text. You will FAIL the assignment if you cut and paste the information from your sources into your textbook. You MUST write it in your own words.

REMEMBER to include your three multiple-choice questions with answers. Your chapter should also have illustrations.

STOP! Send me your first chapter for review before you continue.

Chapter Two: Origin of the Universe

· Describe the Big Bang Theory. 1. What does the theory state? 2. When did the Big Bang occur? 

3. What happened during the Bang?

4. What happened in the microseconds, seconds, minutes, and years after the Big Bang?

· Describe at least three pieces of evidence that support the Big Bang Theory, including:

1. Red shift evidence. What is a red shift? What does it tell us about the relative motion of a star or of the universe? Does the red shift indicate the universe is expanding or contracting?

2. Cosmic microwave background energy. Where does it come from? How does its presence support the Big Bang Theory?

3. The numbers and kinds of atoms found in the universe. There are many more hydrogen and helium atoms in the universe that any other kind of atoms. Where did they come from? How did they form? How does their relative abundance support the Big Bang Theory?

REMEMBER to include your three multiple-choice questions as well as your references. Also, write the text in your own words and include illustrations or diagrams. 

Chapter Three: Star Life Cycles

· Describe the life cycle of a typical star.

· Compare life cycle of the sun to the life cycle of other stars.

· Hydrogen and helium (light elements) were formed during the Big Bang. Describe how the heavier elements were formed. (HINT: The answer has to do with the end of a star’s life!)

· While you are at it, explain the origin of heavy elements on Earth. Where did most of the matter on Earth come from? (HINT: The answer is the same as the answer to the preceding question!)

REMEMBER to include your three multiple-choice questions with answers. Also, document your sources and write the text in your own words. Have you included diagrams or illustrations?

Chapter Four: Life on Earth

· Describe the unique physical features of Earth’s environment that make life on Earth possible. Consider things like the atmosphere (including ozone layer and greenhouse gases), solar energy, and water.

· Choose two planets in our solar system and compare them to Earth. 

Consider their:

1. average temperatures, low and high

2. location in the solar system

3. satellites

4. atmosphere

5. gravity

6. common elements

7. geology

8. other interesting facts

REMEMBER to include your three multiple-choice questions with answers. Also, write the text in your own words and identify your sources of information. Don’t forget your diagrams and/or illustrations!

Send your completed text to me.


Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 7 of your enrollment date for this class.

04.07 The End (Earth Systems)

The End
04.07 The End04.07 The End
Fourth Quarter

You have done it! Congratulations! You are done with all of the assignments. (If you are not done with all of the assignments, please go back and finish them BEFORE you do this assignment.) You have nearly earned your .25 fourth quarter credit.

04.07 The End (Earth Systems)

teacher-scored 10 points possible 60 minutes

All that remains is a final course evaluation, a practice exam, and the final itself.  



1. If you were to give this course a grade, what grade would you give it?

2. List the three assignments which were the most educational for you. Explain why you liked them.

3. List the three assignments which were the biggest waste of time for you. Explain why they were a waste of time.

4. What things (if any) did you like about the course?

5. What things (if any) need to be changed?


1. Coal, oil and natural gas are the results of the slow breakdown and decay of which organisms?

            a.  cows

            b.  insects

            c.  plants

            d.  zooplankton


2. How does energy flow through an ecosystem?

            a.  The sun’s energy is captured by plants, used by animals, and eventually returns to space as heat.

            b.  Energy from the sun is recycled over and over again in the ecosystem.

            c.  Energy from the sun is captured by animals to make sugars and fats.

d.  The sun’s energy is captured by oxygen molecules, which causes photosynthesis.



3. Measurements of light from 7 nearby stars were made.  Doppler analysis was performed and red shift was observed in all the measurements.  What does this evidence suggest about the stars?

            a.  All the stars measured are moving away from the Earth.

            b.  All the stars measured are moving toward the Earth.

            c.  Four of the stars measured are moving away from the Earth.

            d.  All of the stars are not moving relative to the Earth



4.  In the 1600’s Copernicus and Galileo believed that the earth and other planets orbited the sun.  Why were their ideas not accepted at first?

            a.  They had no good research to support their claims.

            b.  People did not study the night sky in the 1600’s.

            c.  Their books were not published until after their deaths.

            d.  Their claims could not be verified by the instruments of the time.

            e.  Their claims contradicted the beliefs of the prevailing churches.


5.  Why is the Big Bang Theory the most accepted theory of how the universe was formed?

           a.  It is the simplest explanation of the current scientific data.

           b.  It is based on a combination of scientific and religious facts.

           c.  It has not been revised or changed by scientists for many years.

           d.  It has been proven correct by using mathematical models.


6.  Which of the following is an example of technology?

           a. the Moon's gravitational constant

           b. chemical composition of Moon rocks

           c. the moon's orbit

           d. Hubble photographs of the Moon

           e. phases of the Moon



7.When do areas of upwelling in the ocean occur?

           a.When fish gather for feeding

           b.When the tides are at their lowest

           c.When surface water is replaced by deep water

           d.When currents collide and form whirlpools



8.  Which of the following most accurately explains the origin of heavy elements on Earth?

           a. Formed by nuclear reactions in massive, ancient stars.

           b. Formed by radioactive decay deep within Earth’s core.

           c. Formed by black holes scattered throughout the galaxy.

           d. Formed by comets and asteroids falling to the Earth.



9.  The Earth, the moon, Venus and Mars are all made of similar elements.  What factors contribute to the existence of life on Earth while the other neighbor planets and moons are lifeless?

           a.  The tilt of the axis is different from that of the Earth on other planets and moons.

           b.  Liquid water and a protective atmosphere are found on Earth and not on the others.

           c.  Earth has active tectonic plates that continue to create and destroy mountains and basins.

           d.  The laws governing the behavior of atoms and molecules is different here than elsewhere.


10. What is the purpose of including a control in a scientific investigation?  To provide:

            a. A basis for comparison

            b. A correction for experimental errors

            c. A preliminary trial of the methods

            d. An opportunity for repetition of the experiment.



11. Hans designed an experiment to measure the effect of color on the absorption of solar energy.  He put a 3m x 3m black plastic tarp and a 3m x 3m clear plastic tarp over a snow bank that was 1m deep.  At 4:00 pm each day for a week he measured the amount of snow remaining under the tarps.  Which of the following statements accurately describes Hans’s experimental design?

            a.  The design was valid because Hans measured the effect of color on the absorption of solar energy.

            b.  The design is flawed because the results cannot be quantified.

            c.  The design is flawed because it tests two variables.

            d.  The design is valid because it has two controls.

            e.  The design is flawed because it has no control.


12. Ms. Magnificent, Lance’s Earth Systems teacher, gave him an assignment to design and conduct an energy related experiment.  Lance decided to compare the amount of energy required to melt ice with the amount of energy required to melt snow. 


Which of the following hypothesis compares the energy required to melt ice with the energy required to melt snow?

            a.  If salt is applied to snow and ice, then snow will melt faster.

            b.  Ice is 50% more dense than snow.

            c.  If the polar ice caps melted, then how many cities would be flooded?

           d.  If energy is applied to snow and ice, then it will change water from a liquid to a solid state.

           e.  If energy is applied to snow and ice, then it will require 50% more energy to melt ice than snow.


13. Lance designed an experiment to compare the energy to melt snow with the energy required to melt ice.  He put 100 ml of snow in a 250 ml beaker and 2  25 ml ice cubes in another 250 ml beaker.  He put the beakers at equal distances over a Bunsen burner and measured the amount of time it took for the ice and snow to be completely melted. 

 Which of the following statements accurately describes Lance’s experimental design?

            a.  The design was flawed because he did not use equal volumes of snow and ice.

           b.  The design was flawed because he cannot determine how much energy was used to melt the snow and ice by measuring the amount of time each took to melt when placed over a burner.

            c.  The design was flawed because he should have used two different burners.

           d.  The design was valid because he compared the energy required to melt snow with the energy required to melt ice.

           e.  The design was valid because he timed the ice and snow until they were completely melted.


14. What is the principle cause of the Coriolis Effect?

            a.  isolation

            b.  winds

            c.  ocean currents

            d.  Earth’s rotation


15.  Extinctions have occurred since life began.  Why are scientists concerned about plants and animals going extinct?

           a.  Scientists care more about plants and animals now than they did in the past.

           b.  Current extinction rates are much higher than natural extinction rates.

           c.  Extinctions cause meteorites to strike the Earth and scientist do not want that to happen.

           d.  Extinctions are not a natural part of life; healthy ecosystems do not have extinctions.


16. Identify four things that happen to sun’s light energy when it reaches the Earth’s atmosphere.  Be specific. 


17. Explain how the energy you use to pedal a bicycle originally came from the sun.  Use at least four steps.


18.   Using the following terms, in a way that makes sense, write a paragraph that explains the big bang theory and the evidence that supports it.

  • red shift
  • cosmic microwave background energy
  • big bang theory
  • theory



You MUST pass the final exam with 60% or better to earn credit for the course. PERIOD. The good news is that the final is very similar to the practice exam. If you have done the assignments and studied the practice exam, the final will be easy for you.

IMPORTANT NOTE:    When you take the final exam, the computer will give you a score.  This is NOT your real score.  The score the computer gives you will be lower than your real score because there is at least one essay question on the final exam that I have to grade before your real score can be calculated.    Do not panic when you see a low score.   If your essay question is correct, it could add up to 10 points to the score the computer gives you.

Good luck and have fun!

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 8 of your enrollment date for this class.

Lesson 4.05 Extinctions