Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Earth and Space

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Earth and Space

Article excerpt

Earth and space science can be the forgotten discipline in the high school science curriculum. Students are often counseled to concentrate on the core sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology. For those who take a fourth year of science, many choose trendier subjects like forensics or anatomy and physiology, while others attempt to bolster their college admission portfolio with as many Advanced Placement courses as they can fit in. Earth and space science can seem a low priority.

This is a shame. The study of our home planet and its place in the universe has provided inspiration for countless scientists and amateur naturalists. Chemistry Nobel Laureate Dudley Herschbach tells the story of how he learned to love science as a child, awed by the starlit night skies of his then rural home in California. Carl Sagan's groundbreaking TV series Cosmos has inspired over 500 million viewers. NASA's Apollo missions encouraged a generation of schoolchildren to consider careers in science and engineering. This year's dramatic landing on Mars of NASA rover Curiosity continues the exciting exploration of the Red Planet, adding to the over 100,000 spectacular images of Martian terrain and other data sent since 2004 by the twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.

Closer to home, deep knowledge of the Earth is essential to meeting the environmental challenges of the 21st century. More than ever before, students must comprehend the dynamic Earth system if they are to responsibly address such critical issues as global climate change; dramatic weather events like super-storm Sandy; natural hazards such as tsunamis, floods, and earthquakes; depletion of energy and mineral resources; and other pressing global issues. …

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