EarthComm® was developed by the American Geosciences Institute and funded through the National Science Foundation. EarthComm® relies on the research in pedagogy and learning theory as well as the strict criteria and standards of the NSF development process. The curriculum has undergone an iterative process of writing, classroom testing, and evaluation as well as review by expert panels at each stage of the process.
Each EarthComm® chapter is built around a project, or Chapter Challenge, that utilizes local and regional issues and concerns to stimulate problem-solving activities, and to foster a sense of Earth stewardship by students in their communities. The Chapter Challenges set the stage and provide the rationale for the learning of the Earth science content and science and engineering skills that follow. By engaging in solving these “real-world” problems and challenges, students are motivated to learn, and they achieve and retain a deeper knowledge of the subject matter and skills.
Each section in an EarthComm® chapter involves active, collaborative learning of some form. In some sections, students must design an experiment to explore a concept. In other sections, they will analyze data or develop and use models, just like real geoscientists and engineers. Students are also regularly asked to answer questions about what they think and what they do, as well as to support their statements with concrete data. “Activity Before Concept” provides a strong foundation for active learning as the students always have a common lab experience upon which to base their understanding of a concept.
Kit components are identified, designed, and tested over time to meet the needs of the investigations specific to the EarthComm® program. In some cases, kit equipment is specifically manufactured for a lab activity. For example, the IAT Rocks and Minerals Set is an item that was uniquely configured by It’s About Time® for the EarthComm® Minerals, Rocks, and Structures chapter. Many EarthComm® activities can be also be adapted for use with our einstein™ Tablet+ or Fourier data loggers and sensors. EarthComm® also features a robust website filled with student and teacher resources and regularly updated by the American Geosciences Institute.
It’s About Time® is committed to providing comprehensive, ongoing professional-development support services for districts or schools implementing EarthComm®. Our highly experienced implementation specialists will lead workshops to get you started with teaching EarthComm®, follow-up sessions that provide additional content and pedagogical support, as well as online and onsite mentoring. The EarthComm® Student Lab Video Series features chapter-by-chapter videos of hands-on activities and labs to support you when students may have missed a class or if you run out of equipment or time to complete an activity. Also, the dynamic EarthComm® website contains resources for teachers, students, and parents.