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Earth Systems Investigations

The Earth Systems Investigations (ESIs) are suggested learning paths that integrate resources from the CLEAN Collection and other trusted science and data content sites into a three-dimensional learning sequence that is engaging. The three dimensions, Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science and Engineering Practices, and Crosscutting Concepts work together to help students build, over time, a cohesive understanding of science while developing the skills to do science. This three-dimensional learning sequence give educators the flexibility to design classroom learning experiences that stimulate students' interest in science and help them to become science-literate and informed citizens.

The Earth Systems Investigations are built on a framework (Acrobat (PDF) 64kB Aug6 16) which forms a four-step investigation that presents a real-world problem designed to elicit student interest in learning more about the topic. Each step in the investigation includes one or more of the eight Science and Engineering Practices. Through conducting multiple investigations over time, students will develop the all the skills described by the Science and Engineering Practices.

Eight Science and Engineering Practices

1. Asking questions and defining problems

2. Developing and using models

3. Planning and carrying out investigations

4. Analyzing and interpreting data

5. Using mathematics and computational thinking

6. Constructing explanations and designing solutions

7. Engaging in argument from evidence

8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information


Educators wishing to build their own Earth Systems investigations may wish to reference the Guidelines page, which contains detailed instructions, resources, and references.

Example Investigations

The Earth Systems Investigations provided here are examples. Educators can build their own ESIs using the investigation framework shown here, drawing content from the CLEAN Collection and other trusted science data and content sites, guided by the content and concepts described in the three-dimensions.

Note: these pilot examples were developed by master teachers but have not yet been classroom tested.

Carbon Cycle


Ecosystems Role in the Carbon Cycle



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