Contact: Michael J. Smith (207) 230-0046
October 16, 2001

High School Students Dig Natural Resources

ALEXANDRIA,VA — A typical day would not be possible without mineral resources to make the products we use; water resources to sustain our lives, to keep us clean, and to cook our food; or energy resources to power our cars and to provide our electricity. All these resources exist in abundance on our planet, but none will last forever without careful planning and management. These issues and the geoscience behind them are the focus of Earth’s Natural Resources, the fourth of five hands-on inquiry-based curriculum modules comprising the Earth System Science in the Community (EarthComm™) curriculum program for grades 9-12.

    The American Geological Institute (AGI) is producing the EarthComm™ curriculum in association with It’s About Time Publishing. This innovative series, developed in accordance with the National Science Education Standards and the American Association for the Advancement of Science—Project 2061's Benchmarks for Science Literacy, is designed to help high-school students understand fundamental Earth Science concepts by the time they graduate. Through their inquiry and activities in this module, students develop an understanding of the complex interactions associated with the Earth’s energy, mineral, and water resources.

    Each chapter in the Earth’s Natural Resources module addresses our use of resources in our day-to-day lives, and the activities and background text enable students to understand the complex processes unique to each resource domain. In “Energy Resources and Your Community,” students evaluate energy consumption and use in the community relative to a hypothetical population growth of 20% and must suggest realistic alternatives to avoid an energy-supply shortage. In the second chapter, “Mineral Resources and Your Community,” students help a local company use mineral resources from the community to design a beverage container. In the last chapter, “Water Resources and Your Community,” students are challenged to determine how the water resource needs of the community would change with the development of an industrial park, mini-mall, and residential area in the community. Students use an Earth systems approach to investigate the hydrologic cycle and global biogeochemical cycles (nitrogen cycle) within the context of community water resources and development.

    EarthComm™ provides the teacher and students with a wide selection of content that meets local interests and course objectives. The modules can be used as stand-alone units or as a full course presented in any order. Field tested and content reviewed, EarthComm™ is part of AGI's ongoing efforts at implementing effective Earth Science education reform. Other modules in the EarthComm™ curriculum program are Earth’s Dynamic Geosphere, Understanding Your Environment, Earth’s Fluid Spheres, and Earth System Evolution. AGI has also developed a comprehensive teacher guide, materials kits, and a web site ( for each EarthComm™ module.

AGI has been a leader in geoscience education for four decades. With funding from the National Science Foundation (Grants ESI 9452789 and ESI 9353035) and the corporate contributors of the AGI Foundation, AGI continues to produce high-quality, innovative, inquiry-based curriculum for K-12 Earth science education. Professional development for teachers is made possible with support from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation, the Geological Society of America, and the AGI Foundation. AGI is currently developing a comprehensive curriculum program for middle schools, Investigating Earth Systems™, which is commercially available through It’s About Time Publishing ( At the college level, we offer the AGI/NAGT Laboratory Manual in Physical Geology  (fifth edition). For more than 30 years, AGI has administrated the Minority Geoscience Scholarship and Mentoring Program to maintain and increase the number of underrepresented ethnic-minority students in the geosciences. For more information about these programs, including a comprehensive brochure that includes a sample activity from AGI’s EarthComm™ or Investigating Earth Systems™ programs, visit the AGI web site,, or contact Dr. Michael J. Smith, AGI Education Director, at

    The American Geological Institute is a nonprofit federation of 37 geoscientific and professional associations that represent more than 120,000 geologists, geophysicists, and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in our profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in mankind's use of resources and interaction with the environment. More information about AGI can be found at The Institute also provides a public-outreach web site,

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