Earth ecoSTEM Kit: QuickStart Guide
This is the online-accessible version of the Earth ecoSTEM kit QuickStart guide; a pdf edition is also available below.
What can you do with the Earth ecoSTEM kit?
Each kit contains supplies to engage a class of 32 students in exciting science and engineering practices as they solve real-world problems and learn about soils, landforms, and earth processes. Here are some of the things students will do, in teams of four:
- Observe phenomena and ask questions about soils
- Create a model, using a stream table, that demonstrates earth processes involved in landforms
- Test soil properties and texture
- Identify native plants suited to grow in tested soils
- Conduct a citizen science project on soils and contribute the data
- Design and carry out an investigation about decomposition with a see-through composter
- Design and install drip irrigation system for garden
- Reduce cafeteria waste and enrich soils through a vermiculture project
- Create organic compost with a compost tumbler
- Model relative effectiveness of different soil conservation techniques in schoolyard
- Envelope with vouchers for:
o Compost Tumbler
o Worm Bin
- Soil test kits
- Mini Stream Tables
- Drip Irrigation Kit
- Box Tea Bags
- Pocket Scale (to 0.01)
Teaching With Your ecoSTEM Kit
Read more about how you can use your ecoSTEM kit along with this QuickStart guide to teach Next Generation Science Standards!
Tips and Tricks for Teaching Outdoors
Eight tips for how to effectively conduct your classroom in the great outdoors!
SKE2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to describe the physical attributes of earth materials (soil, rocks, water, and air).
c. Use tools to observe and record physical attributes of soil such as texture and color
SKP1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to describe objects in terms of the materials they are made of and their physical attributes.
a. Ask questions to compare and sort objects made of different materials. (Common materials include clay, cloth, plastic, wood, paper, and metal.)
b. Use senses and science tools to classify common objects, such as buttons or swatches of cloth, according to their physical attributes (color, size, shape, weight, and texture).
c. Plan and carry out an investigation to predict and observe whether objects, based on their physical attributes, will sink or float.
S1L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the basic needs of plants and animals.
b. Ask questions to compare and contrast the basic needs of plants (air, water, light, and nutrients) and animals (air, water, food, and shelter).
c. Design a solution to ensure that a plant or animal has all of its needs met.
S3E1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the physical attributes of rocks and soils.
b. Plan and carry out investigations to describe properties (color, texture, capacity to retain water, and ability to support growth of plants) of soils and soil types (sand, clay, loam).
c. Make observations of the local environment to construct an explanation of how water and/or wind have made changes to soil and/or rocks over time. (Clarification statement: Examples could include ripples in dirt on a playground and a hole formed under gutters.)
S5E1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to identify surface features on the Earth caused by constructive and/or destructive processes.
a. Construct an argument supported by scientific evidence to identify surface features (examples could include deltas, sand dunes, mountains, volcanoes) as being caused by constructive and/or destructive processes (examples could include deposition, weathering, erosion, and impact of organisms).
b. Develop simple interactive models to collect data that illustrate how changes in surface features are/were caused by constructive and/or destructive processes.
c. Ask questions to obtain information on how technology is used to limit and/or predict the impact of constructive and destructive processes. (Clarification statement: Examples could include seismological studies, flood forecasting (GIS maps), engineering/construction methods and materials, and infrared/satellite imagery.)
S6E5. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to show how Earth’s surface is formed.
d. Ask questions to identify types of weathering, agents of erosion and transportation, and environments of deposition. (Clarification statement: Environments of deposition include deltas, barrier islands, beaches, marshes, and rivers.)
e. Develop a model to demonstrate how natural processes (weathering, erosion, and deposition) and human activity change rocks and the surface of the Earth.
h. Plan and carry out an investigation to provide evidence that soil is composed of layers of weathered rocks and decomposed organic material.
S6E6. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the uses and conservation of various natural resources and how they impact the Earth.
b. Design and evaluate solutions for sustaining the quality and supply of natural resources such as water, soil, and air.
c. Construct an argument evaluating contributions to the rise in global temperatures over the past century. (Clarification statement: Tables, graphs, and maps of global and regional temperatures, and atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, should be used as sources of evidence.)
High School Earth Systems
SES3. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to explore the actions of water, wind, ice, and gravity as they relate to landscape change.
a. Plan and carry out an investigation that demonstrates how surface water and groundwater act as the major agents of physical and chemical weathering.
c. Construct an explanation that relates the past and present actions of ice, wind, and water to landform distribution and landscape change.
d. Construct an argument based on evidence that relates the characteristics of the sedimentary materials to the energy by which they were transported and deposited.
SES6. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about how life on Earth responds to and shapes Earth’s systems.
b. Construct an explanation that describes how biological processes have caused major changes in Earth’s systems through geologic time (e.g., nutrient cycling, atmospheric composition, and soil formation).
c. Ask questions to investigate and communicate how humans depend on Earth’s land and water resources, which are distributed unevenly around the planet as a result of past geological and environmental processes.