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Earth as a System


This short video uses animated imagery from satellite remote sensing systems to illustrate that Earth is a complex, evolving body characterized by ceaseless change. Adapted from NASA, this visualization helps explain why understanding Earth as an integrated system of components and processes is essential to science education.

Video length: 5:30 min.

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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Packed with information in a short period of time, it offers a "big picture" overview that will require "unpacking".
  • This video could offer a good introduction to a climate change or an Earth System science unit.
  • Audio is necessary to explain what you are seeing. Closed-caption available.
  • Background info and discussion points are on the website.

About the Science

  • This video offers a general overview of the complexities of the Earth System including climate; some details, such as the role of subduction and volcanism to the long term carbon cycle, are not included.
  • Connections to human impacts on climate are embedded in the video.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Highlights the interactive nature of Earth's systems, eg. the role the oceans play in weather.
  • Mentions that Earth's atmosphere is affected by heat stored in Earth's oceans, and then goes on to discuss sea surface temperatures (SSTs) only. It should be made clearer that temperatures below the surface, and deeper currents, also play a role in the redistribution of heat around the planet, and subsequently weather systems.

About the Pedagogy

  • A high-level but accessible overview that offers specific connections to many topics ripe for later discussion or investigation by learners.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • High-production-value video. Shows representations of actual datasets.
  • A background essay and discussion questions are provided for teachers.

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