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  • High School

    Earth and Human Activity

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity. HS-ESS3-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios. HS-ESS3-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity. HS-ESS3-3

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems. HS-ESS3-4

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  5. Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems. HS-ESS3-5

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  6. Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity. HS-ESS3-6

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data.

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

Mathematical and computational thinking in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to using algebraic thinking and analysis, a range of linear and nonlinear functions including trigonometric functions, exponentials and logarithms, and computational tools for statistical analysis to analyze, represent, and model data. Simple computational simulations are created and used based on mathematical models of basic assumptions.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to using appropriate and sufficient evidence and scientific reasoning to defend and critique claims and explanations about the natural and designed world(s). Arguments may also come from current scientific or historical episodes in science.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Crosscutting Concepts

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections


  • RST.11-12.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account. (HS-ESS3-1), (HS-ESS3-2), (HS-ESS3-4), (HS-ESS3-5)
  • RST.11-12.2 - Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms. (HS-ESS3-5)
  • RST.11-12.7 - Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem. (HS-ESS3-5)
  • RST.11-12.8 - Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information. (HS-ESS3-2), (HS-ESS3-4)
  • WHST.9-12.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (HS-ESS3-1)


  • HSN-Q.A.1 - Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays. (HS-ESS3-1), (HS-ESS3-4), (HS-ESS3-5), (HS-ESS3-6)
  • HSN-Q.A.2 - Define appropriate quantities for the purpose of descriptive modeling. (HS-ESS3-1), (HS-ESS3-4), (HS-ESS3-5), (HS-ESS3-6)
  • HSN-Q.A.3 - Choose a level of accuracy appropriate to limitations on measurement when reporting quantities. (HS-ESS3-1), (HS-ESS3-4), (HS-ESS3-5), (HS-ESS3-6)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (HS-ESS3-1), (HS-ESS3-2), (HS-ESS3-3), (HS-ESS3-4), (HS-ESS3-5), (HS-ESS3-6)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (HS-ESS3-3), (HS-ESS3-6)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.

    Teaching Climate Literacy Web resources is designed to help educators become prepared to teach climate science.  The resource addresses Earth’s climate system and the impact of human activities.…


    Students will represent the citizens who live and work in a small town called Priceford. A major business development company called Zanec Corporation has asked Priceford for permission to install five 10,…

  • The Ocean-Carbon Connection is level two of five levels contained in the Understanding Ocean Acidification curriculum module developed for the NOAA Ocean Data Education (NODE) Project. In this lesson, students examine graphs and maps to id…

  • In this activity, students are introduced to black carbon as a major source for global climate change. Students read through an article and identify several topics, through discussion, for further study about issues concerning black carbon…

  • In this exercise, students analyze climate data to find areas in the southern United States that are now close to having conditions in which the malaria parasite and its mosquito hosts thrive and then attempt to forecast when areas might b…

  • This activity asks students to consider the life cycle energy and carbon dioxide emission costs of gasoline, corn ethanol, and cellulosic ethanol. The various pieces help students trace energy and matter through a complex system and critic…

  • This activity is divided into four parts. In the first part, students will analyze data detailing global energy sources and sinks (uses). In the second part, students construct a model to show energy sources and sinks.  In the third p…

  • The directions for this activity start on page 20 of the PDF.


    This activity should take about 6, 50 minute class periods. On Day one, students chose to research one of the ten biggest eruptions …

  • The Stabilization Wedges Game is a team-based exercise that teaches players about the scale of the greenhouse gas problem, plus technologies that already exist to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions and get us off the path toward dramatic and…

  • Students investigate human impacts and develop solutions to environmental problems for three different areas: Cape Cod, Everglades, and Los Angeles. In Cape Cod, students are tasked with trying to provide water for a population that has a …

  • Energy issues are an important factor in the functioning of our economy and infrastructure. Therefore, students need to understand issues connected with increasing consumption of energy and differences in consumption rates between geograph…


    This activity uses the 5E (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate) to guide students through the causes and effects of global climate change. In engage, students watch several videos and identify nine pieces of evid…


    In this activity, students try to answer the question, "How do the locations of the world's fisheries relate to levels of human population and seafood consumption?"

    The first part …

  • In this board game, players take on the role of bioenergy crop farmers trying to earn a living while being good environmental stewards.  In the process, players explore the economic and environmental tradeoffs associated with growing …


    In a series of five activities, students will explore the question, "Will there be enough freshwater?" Students explore how water moves above and below Earth's surface by using interactive computational model…

  • National Geographic created a series of three lessons exploring human impact on the environment. In the first activity, students explore maps and identify patterns of human population and impact on the environment. In the second activity, …

  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service created this activity exploring Rachel Carson and her role as an activist for the resource management and conservation. Students read a Rachel Carson fact sheet and her "Conservation in Action" bo…

  • In this 8 day unit, students are exploring topics including climate and weather, carrying capacity and animal adaptations, watershed and human influences on them, climate science data exploring streamflow, and information to schedule a field trip …

  • Students will practice close reading of several articles related to E-waste regulation. After the close reading, students will write an argumentative paper that answers the question, "Should the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality es…

  • For this lesson, students will explore ideas related to data and how communities can respond to the effects of climate change. They will use their critical thinking skills to address the big question: how can a community become more resili…

  • In this activity, students will act as members of the UN Climate Council and working within teams, identify and address the major factors of climate change. Students are instructed to identify three major factors of climate change through research. T…

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Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.