Earth & Space Science Endorsement Competencies - Grades 5-12

The Earth and space science teacher candidate knows and understands scientific concepts and principles that are needed to advance student learning for all students as defined by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) emphasizing the Disciplinary Core Ideas, the Science and Engineering Practices and the Crosscutting Concepts. The Earth and space teacher candidate can integrate the disciplinary core ideas across all the sciences and mathematics, with scientific and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts.


1.0  Disciplinary Core Ideas: Earth’s Place in the Universe

Understands and can explain the disciplinary core ideas of Earth and space science, and can guide the learning of others (for example, identify and respond to student ideas, use productive disciplinary representations, and know how ideas are organized and connected) in the following topics:

1.A The Universe and Its Stars.

1.A.1 The Big Bang theory is supported by observations of distant galaxies receding from our own, of the measured composition of stars and non-stellar gases, and of the maps of spectra of the primordial radiation (cosmic microwave background) that still fills the universe.

  1.A.2 Other than the hydrogen and helium formed at the time of the Big Bang, nuclear fusion within stars produces all atomic nuclei lighter than and including iron, and the process releases electromagnetic energy. Heavier elements are produced when certain massive stars achieve a supernova stage and explode.

1.A.3 The study of stars’ light spectra and brightness is used to identify compositional elements of stars, their movements, and their distances from Earth.

1.A.4 The star called the sun is changing and will burn out over a lifespan of approximately 10 billion years.

1.A.5 The sun in our solar system is part of the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of many galaxies in the universe.

1.A.6 Nuclear fusion processes in the center of the sun release the energy that ultimately reaches Earth as radiation.

1.B Earth and the Solar System.

1.B.1 The solar system appears to have formed from a disk of dust and gas, drawn together by gravity.

1.B.2 The solar system consists of the sun and a collection of objects, including planets, their moons, and asteroids. Kepler’s laws describe common features of the motions of orbiting objects, including their elliptical paths around the sun and explain eclipses of the sun and the moon.

1.B.3 Earth’s spin axis is fixed in direction over the short-term but tilted relative to its orbit around the sun. The seasons are a result of that tilt and are caused by the differential intensity of sunlight on different areas of Earth across the year.

1.B.4 Long term cyclical changes in Earth’s orbit around the sun together with changes in axial tilt have altered the intensity and distribution of sunlight falling on the earth. These phenomena have resulted in ice ages and other climate changes over time.

1.C The History of Planet Earth.

1.C.1 Although active geologic processes such as plate tectonics and erosion, have destroyed or altered most of the very early rock record on Earth, other objects in the solar system, such as lunar rocks, asteroids, and meteorites, have changed little over billions of years. Studying these objects can provide information about Earth’s formation and early history.

1.C.2 The geologic time scale interpreted from rock strata provides a way to organize Earth’s history. Analyses of rock strata and the fossil record provide only relative dates, not an absolute scale.

1.C.3 Continental rocks, which can be older than 4 billion years, are generally much older than the rocks of the ocean floor, which are less than 200 million years old.

2.0 Disciplinary Core Ideas: Earth’s Systems

Understands and can explain the disciplinary core ideas of Earth and space science, and can guide the learning of others (for example, identify and respond to student ideas, use productive disciplinary representations, and know how ideas are organized and connected) in the following topics:

2.A From Microscopic to Global Scales.

2.A.1 Earth systems interact from microscopic to global scales and operate over fractions of seconds to billions of years. These interactions have shaped earth’s history and will determine its future.

2.A.2 Earth’s systems, being dynamic and interacting, cause feedback effects that can increase or decrease the original changes.

2.A.3 The many dynamic and delicate feedbacks between the biosphere and other Earth systems cause a continual co-evolution of Earth’s surface and the life that exists on it.

2.A.4 All earth materials are the result of energy flowing and matter cycling within and among the planet’s systems. The energy is derived from the sun and Earth’s hot interior. These energy flows and matter cycles produce chemical and physical changes in earth materials and living organisms.

2.B Water in Earth’s Systems.

2.B.1 Water continually cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere via processes including transpiration, evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and surface and subsurface flow.

2.B.2 Understand the abundance of liquid water on Earth and its unique physical and chemical properties are central to the planet’s dynamic system.

2.B.2.A Water’s movements—both on the land and underground—cause weathering and erosion, which change the land’s surface features and create underground formations.

2.B.2.B Water movements driven by variations in density due to temperature and salinity drive a global pattern of interconnected ocean currents.

2.B.2.C The cycling of water in the atmosphere is influenced by temperature, winds, landforms, and ocean currents, and has a major effect on local, regional, and global weather patterns.

2.C Plate Tectonics.

2.C.1 Plate tectonics is the unifying theory that explains the past and current movements of the rocks at Earth’s surface and provides a framework for understanding its geologic history.

2.C.2 Plate movements are responsible for most continental and ocean-floor features and for the distribution of rocks and minerals within Earth’s crust.

2.C.3 A variety of evidence leads to a model of Earth with a hot but solid inner core, a liquid outer core, a solid mantle and crust.

2.C.3.A Motions of the mantle and its plates occur primarily through thermal convection driven by temperature and density differences between Earth’s interior and surface.

2.C.3.B Radioactive decay of unstable isotopes continually generates new energy within Earth’s crust and mantle, providing the primary source of the heat that drives convection.

2.C.3.B.1 Spontaneous radioactive decay allows scientists to determine the ages of rocks and other materials.

2.D Weather and Climate.

2.D.1 Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

2.D.1.A Because these patterns are so complex, weather and climate can only be predicted probabilistically.

2.D.1.B The ocean exerts a major influence on weather and climate by  absorbing energy from the sun, releasing it over time, and globally redistributing it through ocean currents.

2.D.2 The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

2.E Climate Change.

2.E.1 The geological record shows that changes to global and regional climate can be caused by variations in the sun’s energy output, changes in Earth’s orbit, tectonic events, ocean circulation, volcanic activity, glaciers, vegetation, and human activities. These changes can occur on a variety of time scales from sudden (e.g., volcanic ash clouds) to intermediate (ice ages) to very long-term tectonic cycles.

2.E.2 Climate models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise along with increased concentrations of greenhouse gasses.

2.E.2.A Climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and biosphere.

3.0 Disciplinary Core Ideas: Earth and Human Activity

Understands and can explain the disciplinary core ideas of Earth and space science, and can guide the learning of others (for example, identify and respond to student ideas, use productive disciplinary representations, and know how ideas are organized and connected) in the following topics:

3.A Natural Resources.

3.A.1 Humans depend on Earth’s land, ocean, atmosphere and biosphere for many different resources.  Minerals, freshwater, and ecosystem resources are limited, and many are not renewable or replaceable over human lifetimes. These resources are distributed unevenly around the planet as a result of past geologic processes. Resource availability has guided the development of human society.

3.A.2 All forms of energy production and other resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical benefits, costs, and risks.

3.B Natural Hazards.

3.B.1 Natural hazards and other geologic events have shaped the course of human history, significantly impacting human populations and influencing human migration patterns.

3.B.2 Mapping the location and determining past occurrences of natural hazards in a region, combined with understanding of related geologic forces can help forecast the locations and likelihoods of future events.

3.C Human Impacts on Earth Systems.

3.C.1 Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of species. But changes to Earth’s environments can have different impacts (positive or negative) for different living things.

3.C.2. The sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources.

3.C.3 Scientists and engineers can reduce ecosystem degradation by developing technologies that produce less pollution and waste and use less energy.

3.D Global Climate Change.

3.D.1 Changes in the atmosphere and biosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas concentrations, affecting climate, ocean systems, and ecosystems.

3.D.1.A Through computer simulations and other studies, important discoveries are still being made about how the ocean, the atmosphere, and the biosphere interact and are modified in response to human activities.

3.D.2. Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

3.D.2.A When evaluating solutions, it is important to take into account a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

4.0 Science and Engineering Practices

4.A Understand and apply Science and Engineering Practices in NGSS.

4.A.1 Ask questions (for science) and define problems (for engineering).

4.A.2 Develop and use models.

4.A.3 Plan and carry out investigations.

4.A.4 Collect, analyze, and interpret data including, but not limited, to using spatial analysis, field observations, and remote sensing.

4.A.5 Use mathematics and computational thinking.

4.A.6 Construct explanations (for science) and design solutions (for engineering).

4.A.7 Engage in argument from evidence.

4.A.8 Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information.

4.B Have experience with and model the practices by which scientists and engineers develop and refine ideas.

4.C Understand and apply the progressions in Appendix F, Scientific and Engineering Practices in NGSS.

4.D Collaborate with other content-area experts and STEM professionals to solve real-world problems, to promote equitable opportunities (see Appendix D) for in-depth experiences, and to include different perspectives. 

4.E Demonstrate the ability to generate awareness of Earth and space science-related STEM career pathways.

5.0 Crosscutting Concepts

5.A Understands and can explain the disciplinary core ideas of Earth and space science, can guide the learning of others (for example, identify and respond to student ideas, use productive disciplinary representations, and know how ideas are organized and connected), and explain how the Crosscutting Concepts bridge disciplinary boundaries, uniting core ideas throughout the fields of science and engineering as described in Appendix G, Section 2, Crosscutting Concepts Matrix of the NGSS.

5.A.1 Patterns.

5.A.2 Cause and effect.

5.A.3 Scale, proportion, and quantities.

5.A.4 Systems and systems models.

5.A.5 Energy and matter; flows, cycles, and conservation.

5.A.6 Structure and function.

5.A.7 Stability and change.

5.B Have experience with and model the application of Crosscutting Concepts by which scientists and engineers develop and refine ideas.

5.C Understand and apply the progressions in Appendix G, Section 2, Crosscutting Concepts Matrix of the NGSS.

5.D Understand the nature of science, and be able to address student misconceptions, as described in Appendix H, Understanding the Scientific Enterprise: The Nature of Science in the NGSS.

6.0 Science-specific Instructional Methodology

6.A Incorporate instructional materials and teaching strategies to create a community of diverse student learners who can construct meaning from scientific experiences and possess a disposition for further inquiry and learning in Appendix D, All Standards, All Students in NGSS.

6.B Anticipate learner ideas in the planning of instruction, identify students’ specific prior knowledge and skills on which instruction can be built, monitor the development of student understanding, interpret student needs, develop responsive actions to meet these needs, and provide multiple opportunities for students to practice their learning.

6.C Integrate the Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Science and Engineering Practices to immerse students in the manner in which scientific and engineering ideas are developed and refined.

6.C.1 Implement the Disciplinary Core Ideas of physical, life, earth and space science, and engineering progressions in Appendix E, Disciplinary Core Ideas and Appendix I,  Engineering Design in NGSS.

6.C.2 Implement the Science and Engineering Practices in Appendix F in NGSS.

6.C.3 Implement the progressions of the Crosscutting Concepts across the grades in order to help students deepen their understanding of the Disciplinary Core Ideas and develop coherent and scientifically-based view of the world in Appendix G, Section 2, Crosscutting Concepts Matrix in NGSS.

6.D Understand and be able to appropriately respond to potential safety hazards in different learning environments, e.g., laboratory, classroom, or field.

6.D.1 Establish and enforce laboratory safety (including storage and disposal of hazardous waste) in the science laboratory.

6.D.2 Demonstrate responsible use and disposal of live organisms according to Washington State law.

6.E Demonstrate an understanding of the CCSS for Mathematics and align instruction in science with instruction that students receive in mathematics, examples of which are described in Appendix L, Connections to the CCSS for Mathematics in NGSS.

6.F Demonstrate an understanding of the CCSS for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects and align instruction in science with instruction that students receive in English Language Arts, examples of which are described in Appendix M, Connections to the CCSS for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects in NGSS.