Earth Science Essentials--Introduction

An interactive text and self-guided course

by Russ Colson

Learn how to read the stories written in the rock and atmosphere of planets. Refresh your understanding of the practices of earth science and gain ideas for activities and investigations that can be adapted to your own classroom. Engage in problem-solving, interpretation of evidence, and scientific modeling through self-guided interactive science reasoning exercises, lectures, labs, and writing assignments.

Title: Fog rising over stream in mountains

Overview:  Have you ever looked out on a foggy lake or stream and wondered why the fog sometimes rises in little streamers and other times lies like a low blanket across the water?  Have you ever wondered how Earth recorded its stories in layers of rock and wished you knew how to read those stories?  Have you ever wanted to know just a little more about how the world works so that, perhaps, you could read the stories written in it?  Earth Science Essentials doesn't merely give you cool factoids (although there might be some!), it shows you how the world works and how you can explore it.  It examines not only what we know (or think we know) but how we know it.  With readings, videos, labs, activities, and writing exercises, you can discover how our world works--as well as any other world in our dimensional reality--and learn to read its stories.

An Interactive Book:  This text includes written lessons filled with interactive science reasoning exercises as well as video lectures that take you into the field and lab.  It is not a comprehensive listing of facts, theories, and terminology like many traditional texts, but rather it is a journey in science reasoning based on some of the most key ideas in earth science.  Each module of the text includes optional labs, writing exercises, and a field activity which can expand and exercise your understanding of earth science, or, for teachers, stir ideas for activities for your own students.  This electronic 'book' offers opportunities to explore how we know what we know about our universe and to practice thinking like an earth scientist through exercises at a variety of difficulty levels ranging from middle school to college graduate.

Russ Colson in his office at Minnesota State University Moorhead.The Author:  Dr. Russ Colson is a planetary scientist with over twenty years of experience teaching meteorology, geology, and planetary science at Minnesota State University Moorhead and elsewhere.  He has done lab investigations and experimental activities with students of all ages.  He worked at the Johnson Space Center for five years followed by six years at Washington University in St Louis where, among other things, he studied space manufacturing processes.  In 2010 he was selected by the Carnegie Foundation and CASE as 2010 US Professor of the year.  More recently, he co-authored the NSTA Press book Learning to Read the Earth and Sky.  He has been a science fiction fan since his introduction to Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov, and Edgar Rice Burroughs as a teenager, and is the author of over nineteen published science fiction stories and articles.  He enjoys gardening and landscaping in his NW Minnesota country home. Please visit his author page for more information, including additional books and resources.



Title: Braided river in Alaska

Road Map to Earth Science Essentials

More so than the other sciences, Earth Science is about telling stories.

Module 1:  Telling Stories of the Past

Module 2: Telling Stories of the Present

Module 3:  Telling Stories of other Worlds



This Interactive text is appropriate for:

1.    Science teachers wanting to renew and practice their understanding of earth science concepts in a way consistent with NGSS practices of science.

2.    Science teachers wanting science reasoning exercises, lab activities, and field ideas they can adapt to their own classes

3.    Science fiction writers with a strong science background who want to understand the nature of planets

4.    Anyone with college-level science background who wants to understand how earth science works and how we know it works that way.


If you are interested in taking this course for college credit, find information about the ESE Course here.



10/27/2017--pictures and text copyright Russ Colson, picture of Russ courtesy of MSUM photographer Darrel Paulson.