Contact: Michael J. Smith (207) 230-0046
December 19, 2001

Earth System Evolution Completes the EarthComm Curriculum

ALEXANDRIA,VA — “Today we’ve reached a turning point in the course of reforming Earth-science education in the United States,” said Dr. Steven M. Stanley, President of the American Geological Institute and Professor (Dept. of Earth & Planetary  Sciences, The Johns Hopkins University).  “EarthComm™, the first hands-on inquiry-based Earth-science curriculum program for grades 9-12 is now complete.” The release of Earth System Evolution, the fifth and final module in the EarthComm™ (Earth System Science in the Community) series, is the culmination of a four-year, ground-breaking project. AGI’s objective was to develop an innovative Earth-science curriculum, in accordance with the National Science Education Standards and the American Association for the Advancement of Science—Project 2061's Benchmarks for Science Literacy, that would provide teachers and students with a wide selection of content that meets local interests and course objectives and that would also help high-school students understand fundamental Earth science concepts by the time they graduate.

    “The EarthComm™  Evolution module will help teachers to pursue a rigorous, evidence-based analysis of evolution in all its forms, including the evolution of Earth, its climate, and its life from the formation of the universe to today,” says Dr. Michael J. Smith, AGI Director of Education. In “Astronomy and Your Community,” students explore evidence for the origin and evolution of the universe and solar system, then investigate how energy and matter from space affect their community. “Climate Change and Your Community” enables students to appreciate the important role of the geologic record to understanding short-term and long-term causes of global climate change. In the final chapter in the module, students examine factors that control biodiversity of their community and use the geologic record to understand why and how biodiversity changes through time.

    The American Geological Institute is producing the EarthComm™ curriculum in association with It’s About Time Publishing. Smith reported that response to the program has been enthusiastic and that each module was extensively field tested and reviewed by teachers and scientists before publication. The EarthComm™ modules, Earth’s Dynamic Geosphere, Understanding Your Environment, Earth’s Fluid Spheres, Earth’s Natural Resources, and Earth System Evolution, may be used as stand-alone units or as a full course presented in any order. Each module offers a comprehensive teacher guide, materials kits, and a web site (

    The second part of AGI's ongoing program that is implementing effective Earth-science education reform is the nine-module middle-school curriculum program, Investigating Earth Systems™ (IES). For more information about these materials, including a comprehensive brochure that includes a sample activity from AGI’s EarthComm™ or Investigating Earth Systems™ modules, visit the AGI web site,, or contact Dr. Michael J. Smith at Both curriculum programs are available through It’s About Time Publishing.

    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, the Institute continues to produce high-quality, innovative, inquiry-based curricula 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.

    In October 2001, NSF awarded AGI a $1.7 million grant (ESI 0095938) to develop an inquiry-based Earth-science textbook for middle-school students over the next three years. The new curriculum-development effort, Project CUES (Constructing Understandings of Earth Systems), will be based in part upon the Investigating Earth Systems™ curriculum program. At the college level, the Institute produces the AGI/NAGT Laboratory Manual in Physical Geology (fifth edition, 2000) and is developing a series of web-based activities for use in introductory geoscience courses.

    The American Geological Institute is a nonprofit federation of 39 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,

Back to top

AGI Home | News | BookCenter | Careers | Data | Directory | Education | Environment | GeoRef | Geotimes | Govt. Affairs | Members | Publications

agi logo© 2001 American Geological Institute. All rights reserved.