Earth Science Essential Questions

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

These essential questions will serve as a useful reference as you design and teach earth science. They will help both you and your students focus on the most important questions that must be answered to fully understand the depth of this subject.

Earth Science Essential Questions

Essential questions are basic, fundamental questions students should be asking themselves as they study a subject, and should be able to answer competently when they're finished studying that subject. Having a series of essential questions available for easy reference can be extremely useful for teachers. In this lesson, we will provide you with a series of possible essential questions for earth science, both general questions and questions separated by topic.

General Earth Science Questions

Here are some general essential questions for earth science:

  • How can we investigate the world around us to make more sense of it?
  • What benefits are to be gained from studying and exploring the world in which we live?
  • How does curiosity about the world around us impact and guide scientific inquiry?
  • What is the relationship between evidence and scientific hypotheses and theories?
  • How are scientific investigations best designed?
  • Why is evidence central to scientific investigations?
  • What is the Earth's place in the universe, and how can this inform the way we view ourselves and our lives?
  • Why is it important to understand the Earth's systems?
  • How are the Earth's resources and energy sources exploited for human use?

Weather & Climate

Here are some essential questions which focus on weather and climate:

  • How does the sun affect weather patterns on Earth?
  • How is climate changing over time, and to what extent are humans impacting the change?
  • What can be done to reduce the effects of climate change?
  • How do different parts of the Earth's climate system affect one another?
  • In what ways does temperature affect climate?
  • How and to what extent can we predict the weather?
  • How do we collect data about the weather?

Processes & Systems

Here are some essential questions discussing the Earth's processes and systems:

  • To what extent is the Earth an active, changing system?
  • How was the surface of the Earth constructed and changed over millennia?
  • What processes cause the creation of the features of the Earth, such as rivers, volcanoes, valleys, mountains, glaciers, and coastal features?
  • How does energy move across the world and cause change?
  • How does the sun impact the water cycle?
  • How does matter move across the world and cause change?
  • Can matter be created or destroyed?
  • How do forces affect the motion of matter?
  • What evidence do we have to suggest that the Earth changes across time?

Ecology & Life on Earth

Here are some essential questions about ecology and life on Earth:

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