Grades 3 - 8
Understand food chains and ecosystem interactions and predict how changes in species functions and interactions can impact the system.
By the end of this activity, students will be able to:
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns • Cause and Effect - Mechanism and Explanation • Scale, Proportion, and Quantity • Systems and System Models • Energy and Matter - Flows, Cycles, and Conservation • Stability and Change
NGSS Science & Engineering Practices: Asking Questions and Defining Problems • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations • Analyzing and Interpreting Data • Developing and Using Models • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas: PS3 - Energy • LS1 - From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes • LS2 - Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics • LS4 - Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity • ESS2 - Earth’s Systems • ETS1 - Engineering Design
Observatory: Sierra CZO
Author: Michelle Gilmore (UC Merced) and Lynn Sullivan (UC Merced)
Funding: Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory
Grades 6 - 8
Website & Assessment
Grades 6 - 8
Website • Assessment
Visit the El Yunque rain forest in Puerto Rico through this interactive module to discover how hurricanes affect the producers, consumers, and the flow of resources in the forest. See how ecosystems respond in many ways to large-scale environmental events.
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: Systems and System Models • Energy and Matter - Flows, Cycles, and Conservation • Stability and Change
NGSS Science & Engineering Practices: Analyzing and Interpreting Data • Developing and Using Models • Engaging in Argument from Evidence • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas: LS2 - Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Observatory: Luquillo CZO
Author: Steven McGee (The Learning Partnership) & Jess Zimmerman (LUQ-LTER)
Funding: NSF EHR and US Dept of Ed
Grades 6 - 12
Hydrology • SoilScience/Pedology
This blog post covers the topic of leaching, the process in which water carries soluble substances or small particles through soil or rock.
Readers will be able to describe the process of leaching, its function, and the effect it has on the structure of the Critical Zone.
Audience: K-12 • General Public
Observatory: National CZO
Author: Justin Richardson (UMass)
Grades K - Professional
App • Tour
Use a narrative "science tour" app for the drive up Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona. Travel from desert to pine forest, listening to the audio guide and watching slideshows and videos. Learn how our world is sustained by natural environments, systems, and cycles.
Describe the natural history of Mt. Lemmon with special attention to geology and biology. The tour follows the Catalina Highway to the top of Mt. Lemmon.
Audience: K-12 • General Public • Higher Education • Research Community
Observatory: Catalina-Jemez CZO
Author: Producer: Shipherd Reed (Univ. of Arizona)
Funding: NSF CZO, Contributions from UA College of Science and other regional organizations
Outlined below are key examples of educational activities coordinated by the CZO National Office to engage K-12 teachers or administrators overseeing K-12 funding programs.
Many additional K-12 E/O activities are run by the CZO program, mostly led by individual Observatories. To see examples of those per-CZO efforts, select an observatory from the “Move laterally” menu above.”
CZO researchers cooperated with the American Geosciences Institute's Earth Science Week since 2013, providing "hands on" learning exercises that are sent to more than 16,000 teachers nationwide.The CZO National Office intends for this cooperation to continue on an annual basis. More information is available in a 2014 News story and a 2015 News story (African Dust feeds the Puerto Rico ecosystem).
AGI hands-on learning exercises:
Tim White, as national coordinator, and Susan Gill, Stroud Water Research Center education director, developed a successful Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program that places 2 secondary education teachers each at the Christina River Basin and Shale Hills CZOs during the summers of 2014 through 2016.
RET, Lauren Smith, lead a secondary teachers workshop at Penn State University on the use of Virtual Field Experiences in a classroom. Smith led 10 participants in a lecture and series of discussions followed by a guided afternoon tour of the Shale Hills CZO by Tim White and Dave Eissenstat (PSU). The workshop concluded with an aquatic invertebrate exercise using Stroud Water Research Center's Leaf Pack Experiment Kit.
A CZO Science Teaching Workshop, organized by two RETs and National Office collaborator Don Duggan-Haas, was held in State College, PA to provide K-12 teachers an introduction to CZ science through the creation and use of Virtual Fieldwork Experiences (VFEs).
RET Sharon Dykhoff developed a hydrology learning unit available through the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) entitled "The Case of the Muddy Water: Using Authentic Data to Investigate Impacts of Hydrofracturing." The objective of this lesson is to introduce the potential impacts of natural gas extraction through data analysis.
Two teachers developed learning exercises and presented the results of their summer experience at the Pennsylvania State Teachers Association meeting in State College, PA on December 8, 2014.
REU/RET hands-on learning exercises:
Ground Penetrating Radar - Monitoring Soil Moisture (1 MB docx)
Carbon Storage Measurements in Forests (1 MB docx).
Paul Longwell (Hollidaysburg Area School District, PA) and Mark Yeckley (Glendale School District, PA), 2014 summer RETs at the Shale Hills CZO, present the results of their summer experience at the PA State Teachers Association meeting in State College, December 2014.
Tim White developed an on-line open-source course entitled 'Earth Surface Processes in the Critical Zone'. The course is formally offered through The Pennsylvania State University's Masters of Education in Earth Sciences program and aims to educate middle and high school teachers interested in incorporating Critical Zone science into their classroom curriculum. Course Home Page
As national coordinator, Tim White taught a short course entitled "Introduction to Critical Zone Science and Observatories" at the 125th anniversary meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver in October 2013, a course that will be offered again at the GSA meeting in Vancouver, B.C., Canada in October 2014. CZO News Article
The CZO national coordinator traveled to Arizona State University during February 2012 to the Education and Outreach summit organized by Earthscope, presenting a short talk on CZO efforts and engaging colleagues from a variety of NSF-sponsored science initiatives to learn and share. Earthscope blog
CZOs were included in the NSF-sponsored national Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) best practices conference at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA on September 16, 2011, displaying large format posters, a stream table, and various on-line educational opportunities associated with the CZOs. CZO News Article
(639 KB pdf)
Notice & Wonder: Foundation for Scientific Inquiry in the Critical Zone
(264 KB pdf)
Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia (Dead) Zone
(441 KB pdf)
The Past, Present & Future of the Valles Caldera
(1 MB pdf)
The Influence of Dry Deserts on Tropical Rain Forests
AGI2015 - supplement
(2 MB pdf)
Supplement - The Influence of Dry Deserts on Tropical Rain Forests. African_Dust_Supplementary
AGI2015 - excel dataset
(534 KB xlsx)
Excel dataset - The Influence of Dry Deserts on Tropical Rain Forests. Rain_chemistry_data_AGI
(1 MB pdf)
Water resources management simulation
(651 KB pdf)
Paleoclimate influence on landscape evolution
07 May 2019 (Shale Hills) - On a warm and sunny day in May, the 2018-2019 cohort took to the field! Along with Centre County Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Corp member...
24 Jan 2019 (Shale Hills) - Without a winter warmup, students forgo the field for the classroom to discover what is in the HACH box. The 2018-2019 TeenShale cohort...
09 Oct 2018 (Shale Hills) - Building upon the abandoned well water quality investigations of Wallace Run, this year’s cohort plans to engage with the Centre County...
26 Sep 2018 (Luquillo) - Photos and student created products from the 2016 Data Jam.