Introduction to the Earth

Opening Remarks ... Please Read First:

During the course of the 2005-06 school year, I was asked to seek a licensure in Earth-Space Science. While I have been teaching Astronomy for 12 years, 7 of which include the college level, I admit that my teaching license is in the area of Life Sciences. I may know my stuff and enjoy sharing it with my students, but the No Child Left Behind Legistlation has encouraged the Minnesota Department of Education and Hopkins School District to insure the parents of the students that our teachers are fully knowledgeable and credible sources to pass on learning. Since a high school teaching license in Astronomy does not exist, I have been working on a portfolio that will demonstrate to the MDE that I can teach Earth-Space Science. In order to do so, I have begun developing an entire course called Earth Science that is being embedded into the pages of this Astronomy Course. You are expected to follow the Syllabus and course navigation recommended by me. If such a time comes when Hopkins offers a full Earth-Space Science Course, then the pages of content will be ready to help that teacher who may be myself or someone else in the district. Since many of the pages of the Earth Science Course are under construction, you will encounter pages that demonstrate my struggle to get this ready. Please be patient with me. Those of you who may wish to explore more about the Earth outside of the recommended course sequence for Astronomy are welcome to browse and send comments to me.

Okay ... Let's Look at the Earth

The purpose of this set of pages is to help Astronomy students learn about our home planet and its moon. By developing a solid understanding of our place in space, we can better make comparisons to other planets and moons in the Solar System. The knowledge gained from our upcoming study of the Earth will serve as a baseline against which other Solar Systems can be measured. There is quite a bit of reading to be done in this unit, and a lot of information that does not seem to be Astronomy. I have included a fair piece of Geology, but not simply because I like it, even though I do. I had this great grad school course in Geology as part of my pursuit of a teaching license. I found rocks to be so cool. When I thought back on my childhood, one of my fondest experiences was a trip to the museum in Milwaukee and looking a crystals glowing under black light. I decided to collect rocks and have been doing to ever since I was a kid. The grad course helped me understand what was in my collection and how those rocks were formed. My wife has permitted my collection to be part of the family room display, and she even gives me an allowance to get new rocks when we go to the Mall of America or pass by a mineral flea market. While I am not quite as excited about rocks as stars (I am not excited about rock stars at all), I still want to pass some of my enthusiasm for Geology on to you.

The grander purpose of this unit is to help you appreciate our home planet, and begin to develop an understanding of the myriad circumstances that are unique to Earth, or unique in particular combinations such that life in general, and a large sustainable population of humans, is possible. This unit is one which will be continually under construction as I try to add new content and locate better connecting links. For now, I hope this is enough to spark your interest. The beginning of the Solar System Unit will start with several days looking at Earth as a planet and then looking at our moon. Pages in this section include:

Our Place in Space

Earth Facts and Connecting Weblinks

Earth Structure

Origin of the Earth and Geologic Time

Plate Tectonics and Earthquakes

Volcanism and Orogeny

Rock Cycle and Earth Recycling

Atmosphere and Weather - these two pages are under construction, pending the direction of development of this course relative to either it being an Astronomy course or an Earth Space Science course.

Seasons of the Earth

Solar and Sidereal Time

Earth-Science Inroduction

After you have completed your study of Earth as a planet, move forward to a study of The Moon. If, at any time, you get lost during this study, you can return to this Introductory Page. Let's begin with Earth Facts, or take a break to mentally prepare for the fascinating material you will study as you learn about the Earth by going back to the Syllabus or the Home Page.


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