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My NASA Data


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th


Science, Biology, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Articles and Websites
  • Videos, 4 minutes

Regional Focus




About the Earth as a System: Background Information

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  • This article introduces students to Earth's five major systems (atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, and biosphere) and how the systems are interconnected.
  • The 3-D satellite imagery of the systems helps students visualize the complex interactions in different parts of the world.
Teaching Tips


  • The video shows some systems at the same time, like soil moisture and precipitation, to help with student understanding.
  • The article is concise and uses simple, accessible language.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The video takes place over three months and starts with each system individually and then pairs them, showing each system multiple times in various locations.
  • You may need to pause the video periodically to discuss the content with students.


  • To better engage students with the video, have them write down what they noticed about their region of the world and one other region. Were there any similarities or differences?
  • Have older students research how climate change is affecting each of the Earth's systems.
  • To ensure younger students catch the subtle changes in the video, watch the video as a class on a large screen.
  • Watch this video to learn how humans influence the Earth's systems.
Scientist Notes
This resource from My NASA Data provides a quick introduction to the five Earth systems and Earth system science. After defining the five Earth systems and Earth system science, the resource includes a video that shows a rotating Earth from June-August 2014 with data visualizations overlaid. This video is valuable if students take the time to notice trends and interactions between the systems. Examples could include asking students to map the Gulf Stream based on winds, water vapor, or clouds or to ask students to describe how sea surface temperature and water vapor are related. Three mini lessons are also included that feature great data visualizations and ask pointed questions. This resource is informative, visually appealing, and is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-5 Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses results in changes in weather conditions.
      • MS-ESS2-6 Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.
      • HS-ESS2-5 Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
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