The Earth is full of amazing things, above, below and on the surface. The study of Earth includes a wide variety of disciplines, including geology, ecology, hydrology, and others, but all of these can be included under the banner of Earth science.
In a nutshell, Earth science is the study of the Earth from the point of view of how the various systems of the planet interact with one another and how they interact with life in general. Earth scientists provide important research that can affect everything from energy generation to food production.
These latter points bring to attention the fact that Earth science studies are global while the disciplines of Earth science may be more localized. Every continent is unique, and even different areas of different continents have their own ecosystems, biomes and other ecological features.
This necessitates the study of the Earth from different points of view in different places in order to grasp how the planet as a whole functions to support life.
What Are Earth Science Topics?
As stated above, there are various disciplines or branches of Earth science that focus on specific aspects of the planet. For example, geology is the study of the Earth’s materials as they relate to supporting life.
Geologists may research things like rocks and the layers that make up the planet’s surface and sub-surface, but they may also work inter-discipline alongside hydrologists to investigate how wear from water pathways over time has formed current geological features of the planet.
Likewise, atmospheric scientists may study not only how weather patterns affect crop growth in certain regions, but also how certain chemical pollutants affect atmospheric conditions in the sky, and as a byproduct, on the ground.
The results of this research can go on to provide support for a cleaner, healthier planet along with healthier populations.
Oceanography is another example of a branch of Earth science. Oceanographers study the conditions of the planet’s oceans, but these researchers should not be confused with marine biologists.
A marine biologist is concerned with the study of life in the ocean while an oceanographer is concerned with the study of oceanic function, conditions and impact on other Earth systems in addition to some aspects of marine life.
Because so many disciplines and sub-disciplines are connected in the study of Earth sciences, those with an interest in this subject matter may find that seeking educational opportunities requires some thought and investigation.
Earth sciences as a field of study may not focus enough on a particular subject of interest, requiring students to look further into specific disciplines instead of general Earth sciences studies.
Is Earth Science An Overlooked Scientific Subject?
Some believe that Earth science is an overlooked subject that has gotten a lesser degree of attention as technology has taken center stage in classrooms across the world.
Although traditional education models have placed a strong emphasis on classroom learning and field research for Earth science, natural processes today can be studied via computer modeling, computer-generated imaging and large-scale data analysis.
This may give the appearance that Earth science has taken a back seat to coding and programming, but the opposite is actually true. Because technology allows students and scientists to study the planet in greater detail using advanced software solutions, Earth science still receives a lot of attention even if the presentation is updated for the digital age.
Future Education in Earth Science Topics
To understand the future of Earth science education, just consider global positioning satellite (GPS) technology and satellite imagery. These technologies have allowed people to study the Earth from remote locations by providing wide-view depictions of terrain and geological features from space.
These images and the data gathered from them were virtually impossible to achieve even 100 years ago, but now, the average person can pull up a topographic map of the world from a smartphone while on a city bus. This gives a glimpse into how technology has and will continue to shift Earth sciences education in the future.
Even as this is the case, some believe that a holistic approach is necessary to improve Earth sciences education in K-12 schools. Using this approach, topics are no longer segmented, but instead, various disciplines are brought together to demonstrate how Earth systems are constantly moving and changing, both within themselves and in relation to human impact.
Some researchers believe that a holistic approach to Earth science education is more valuable as it provides students with a fuller understanding of the importance of ecological concepts and care.