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Integrating Earth Science in Your Classroom

Posted on April 18 2021

Integrating Earth Science in Your Classroom

Dear Educators,

Here at Maps 101, we continue to focus on planet Earth during April as we look toward celebrating Earth Day on April 22nd. Although Earth Science is typically seen as part of the STEM curriculum, other disciplines and subject areas can benefit from Maps 101’s Earth Science content. To learn nearly anything, students must-read. For example, Geography News Network articles are perfect for ELA classrooms. History and geography too rely on students’ understanding of our planet to contextualize what they are learning. Maps enhance nearly every subject by identifying place and providing visual learners an anchor from which to scaffold their understanding. Take a look at just some of the samples of content that revolve around Earth and enhance cross-curricular learning with Maps 101. 

Geography News Network

The interaction between humans and their environment is one of the most important themes of study in geography. Humans interact with Earth, affecting biomes and the habitats of plants and animals. There is a ripple effect on Earth when humans create pollution, tear down forests for agriculture or urban development, and divert waterflow from rivers. In this Geography News Network article, learn about the Three Gorges Dam in China. The dam was built with two goals in mind: to harness hydroelectric power and to better manage the flooding of the Yangtze River. Use the questions at the end of the article to develop classroom discussion. In ELA classrooms, use the article to practice summarizing, identify cause-and-effect, and focus CCSS Reading: Informational Text standards to improve students’ reading comprehension. For example, concentrate on identifying key ideas and details to address CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.8.1

Geography News Network

Damming rivers is one of the many ways humans interact with Earth. Through the use of fossil fuels, such as burning coal and using gasoline for fuel, humans allow noxious gas emissions, such as nitrous dioxide (NO2) to be trapped in Earth’s atmosphere. Much of this air pollution is at the lowest level of the atmosphere: the troposphere. An interesting development during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, was seeing the levels of NO2 drop significantly. China, where the virus began, has a large population, many of whom own and use cars, daily. With a quarantine in effect to keep the virus from spreading, one result was far fewer people in major cities traveling in cars, buses, and other forms of transportation. Consequently, there has been a large reduction of emissions into the troposphere. Read this week’s GNN article to learn more. Ask students to brainstorm other examples of human-environment interaction and write their ideas on the board. Encourage students to pay attention to how they interact with their environment at school or at home so that they are more mindful and make positive decisions that help Earth.


 Student Challenge

Have interested students read how lockdown allowed people in India to see the Himalayas for the first time, in this article:

Then, ask students to compare this article with the information about reduced emissions in China in the Maps 101 GNN article. Use the following prompts to engage students in a discussion: What conclusions can students draw about the positive effects of the global quarantine? What can humans learn from these effects, and what should we do about this information?


This week, Maps 101 takes a look at the effects of COVID-19 on Earth as an accompaniment to the week’s GNN article. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit China, like elsewhere, people were quarantined. This meant they stayed home and did not travel as they usually would. In the maps, you can see the drastic effect the quarantine had on NO2 emissions as a result of people staying home and not using vehicles. Ask STEM or social studies students to create a chart, approximating figures to compare at least five cities on both maps. Encourage students to approximate as closely as possible, based on the key. They may want to use the figures at the extreme ends of the key and identify specific colors to then calculate what range these colors would likely represent. From there, they can make their charts.

Field Trip

Hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, and precipitation all affect Earth. These events also can greatly affect humans. Many students are highly interested in extreme weather—these events are exciting and they happen all over, connecting learning with direct experience. Use this virtual Field Trip that “travels” through different types of extreme weather, to engage students, especially while remote learning. ELA classes can use the descriptions and visuals to engage all students, including ELL students. Social studies classes may benefit from connecting these events to historical and political policies or governmental responses to these events, such as those during Hurricane Katrina. STEM students studying weather will benefit from an overview of the different types of extreme weather. All students can research each type of extreme weather to find recent examples of each and create reports to demonstrate their understanding. Access this Field Trip for free as a preview of what is available on Maps 101.

High-quality geography products for the classroom. From globes to wall maps, atlases to games, offers a wealth of products to help put your classroom on the map.
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