A Global Perspective

Science and Children ( National Science Teacher Association) Stein Brunvand and Jeffrey Bouwman
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Specimen , Tutorial , Test , Activity , Experiment/Lab Activity , Instructor Guide/Manual
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.




This article describes how students can participate in a citizen science project that addresses real-life local and global issues. They collect soil  samples for the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Project hosted by the international Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment Program (GLOBE).  Students choose and observe local soil collection sites, collect specimens, then compare soil moisture measurements, before and after drying. Their data is uploaded to the GLOBE website to be analyzed and used by scientists. Students also develop questions and investigate them using data retrieved via GLOBE’s Advanced Data Access Tool.


Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 4
Access Restrictions

Available by subscription - The right to view and/or download material, often for a set period of time, by way of a financial agreement between rights holders and authorized users.

Performance Expectations

4-ESS2-1 Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.

Clarification Statement: Examples of variables to test could include angle of slope in the downhill movement of water, amount of vegetation, speed of wind, relative rate of deposition, cycles of freezing and thawing of water, cycles of heating and cooling, and volume of water flow.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to a single form of weathering or erosion.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students make observations of local soil sample collection sites to identify evidence of the effects of weathering by water. The students in the article did not intentionally choose sites that showed erosion. However, when collecting data, they noticed that two of the sites showed more erosion than the third site. This could lead to investigation of weathering and erosion in the schoolyard. Students might photograph selected sites, including captions explaining types of weathering and subsequent erosion that might occur in those areas. Photos/captions could be placed on a class focus wall, giving students a location to add photographs of each site, focusing on changes in site after rainfall/ wind events occur.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students collect soil sample data from local collection sites and upload data to share. They could also collect data on rainfall, temperature, etc for their local sites as evidence about the impact of rainfall, humidity, temperature, and bodies of water on soil moisture. Students might collect extra local soil samples in order for them to examine them physically, discussing their properties (e.g., color, density, grain quality) using microscopes or hand lenses. Students could record drawings of the samples and their ideas in science notebooks.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students compare and contrast data from other regions to investigate how rainfall, bodies of water, humidity, and temperature affect the amount of soil moisture and compare them with local sites. Since this resource is a year-long activity, students might develop “soil pen pal “ relationships with other students living in those regions, sharing descriptions of rainfall amounts, types of weathering, and temperature averages, as well as photos of pen pal regions.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students analyze data collected on soil moisture to draw conclusions about effects of rainfall, etc. on amount of soil moisture. They can include potential cause and effect ideas in their science notebooks as well as the photo wall suggested above.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This resource allows students to become partners in an international research project that provides valuable information about floods, droughts, and weather forecasting. The real-life, real-time, ongoing learning project creates opportunities for three-dimensional learning as students collect, analyze, graph, and share soil moisture data, clarifying and justify their ideas about influences of weathering on local soil areas.

  • Instructional Supports: Extensive instructional support for the protocols is provided both in the GLOBE materials and on video. Specific suggestions for differentiated instruction are not included in this resource. Teacher could select student research groups based on student reading level ability and working knowledge of site technological requirements to provide support for struggling students.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Rubrics are provided for evaluating student performance during each step of the project. Student graphs, notebook entries, and material uploaded to the Global Learning Site can be used for formative assessment. At the end of the year, students could share their projects with incoming 4th grade students, who could participate in and add to the on-going project during the following school year.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: Students research regional patterns of rainfall and other other variables. The interactive element, while purposeful and directly related to learning, does not adapt to the learner based on student actions. The site is well-designed and easy to use, and learner use is encouraged, providing detailed tutorials are utilized. Teach Teachers would need to become familiar with all aspects of the Global Learning site, availing themselves of the extensive training opportunities included in the site. https://www.globe.gov/get-trained/protocol-etraining