- Use models to explain how weathering, erosion, and deposition of Earth materials by the movement of water shape landscapes and create underground formations.
- Model multiple pathways for the cycling of water through the atmosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere as it changes phase and moves in response to energy from the sun and the force of gravity.
- Plan and conduct investigations to explain how temperatures and salinity cause changes in density which affect the separation and movement of water masses within the ocean.
- Plan and carry out investigations of the variables that affect how water causes the erosion, transportation, and deposition of surface and subsurface materials as evidence of how matter cycles through Earth’s systems.
- Apply scientific knowledge to design engineered solutions to natural hazards that result from surface geologic and hydrologic processes.
- Generate and revise causal explanations for how physical and chemical interactions among rocks, sediments, water, air, and organisms contribute to the weathering and erosion of rocks and the formation of soil.
One of the key concepts running through the above standards is that of weathering and erosion. Students may hold many misconceptions about these processes; such as, believing rocks do not change. Many students believe that weathering and erosion are essentially the same thing and that these words can be used interchangeably. Students tend to think of natural geologic erosion as being as large-scale and fast-paced as the types of erosion which occur due to human activity. Students also tend to believe that erosion is always bad. Even once students understand the concepts of weathering and erosion, they often have difficulty conceptualizing the long time frames needed for these processes to occur.
Another key concept in these strands is the water cycle. Students also have misconceptions here, as many see the water cycle in terms of freezing and melting and thus have a difficult time with the idea of conservation of matter as it relates to water vapor and air, thus making it hard to understand evaporation and condensation. Many students believe that water only gets evaporated from oceans or lakes; instead of understanding that water may evaporate from plants, animals, puddles, and the ground, in addition to larger bodies of water.