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This lesson introduces the Earth system science spheres through model making and discussion. Students will work within an Earth system science notebook to chronicle their work and learning.

Through guided inquiry, students will identify interactions of the four major scientific spheres on Earth: biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and geosphere. They will then identify how these systems are represented and interact in their classroom aquarium.

This learning activity uses data acquired by the TOPEX/Poseidon altimeter, a joint project of NASA and the French Space Agency, to investigate the relationship between the topography of a sea-floor feature and the topography of the overlying sea surface.

Students analyze historic plant growth data (i.e., peak bloom dates) of Washington, D.C.’s famous cherry blossom trees, as well as atmospheric near surface temperatures as evidence for explaining the phenomena of earlier peak blooms in our nation’s capital.

This activity invites students to model and observe the effect of melting ice sheets (from land) on sea level and the difference between the effect of melting sea-ice to that of melting land ice on sea level.