Standards that all students are expected to achieve in the
course of their studies are unmarked.
Standards that all students should have the opportunity to learn
are marked with an asterisk (*).
Earth's Place in the Universe
- Astronomy and planetary exploration reveal the solar system's
structure, scale, and change over time. As a basis for understanding
- Students know how the differences and similarities
among the sun, the terrestrial planets, and the gas planets
may have been established during the formation of the solar
- Students know the evidence from Earth and moon
rocks indicates that the solar system was formed from a
nebular cloud of dust and gas approximately 4.6 billion
- Students know the evidence from geological studies
of Earth and other planets suggest that the early Earth
was very different from Earth today.
- Students know the evidence indicating that the
planets are much closer to Earth than the stars are.
- Students know the Sun is a typical star and is
powered by nuclear reactions, primarily the fusion of hydrogen
to form helium.
- Students know the evidence for the dramatic effects
that asteroid impacts have had in shaping the surface of
planets and their moons and in mass extinctions of life
- * Students know the evidence for the existence
of planets orbiting other stars.
- Earth-based and space-based astronomy reveal the structure,
scale, and changes in stars, galaxies, and the universe over
time. As a basis for understanding this concept:
- Students know the solar system is located in
an outer edge of the disc-shaped Milky Way galaxy, which
spans 100,000 light years.
- Students know galaxies are made of billions of
stars and comprise most of the visible mass of the universe.
- Students know the evidence indicating that all
elements with an atomic number greater than that of lithium
have been formed by nuclear fusion in stars.
- Students know that stars differ in their life
cycles and that visual, radio, and X-ray telescopes may
be used to collect data that reveal those differences.
- * Students know accelerators boost subatomic
particles to energy levels that simulate conditions in the
stars and in the early history of the universe before stars
- * Students know the evidence indicating that
the color, brightness, and evolution of a star are determined
by a balance between gravitational collapse and nuclear
- * Students know how the red-shift from distant
galaxies and the cosmic background radiation provide evidence
for the "big bang" model that suggests that the
universe has been expanding for 10 to 20 billion years.
Dynamic Earth Processes
- Plate tectonics operating over geologic time has changed
the patterns of land, sea, and mountains on Earth's surface.
As the basis for understanding this concept:
- Students know features of the ocean floor (magnetic
patterns, age, and sea-floor topography) provide evidence
of plate tectonics.
- Students know the principal structures that form
at the three different kinds of plate boundaries.
- Students know how to explain the properties of
rocks based on the physical and chemical conditions in which
they formed, including plate tectonic processes.
- Students know why and how earthquakes occur and
the scales used to measure their intensity and magnitude.
- Students know there are two kinds of volcanoes:
one kind with violent eruptions producing steep slopes and
the other kind with voluminous lava flows producing gentle
- * Students know the explanation for the location
and properties of volcanoes that are due to hot spots and
the explanation for those that are due to subduction.
Energy in the Earth System
- Energy enters the Earth system primarily as solar radiation
and eventually escapes as heat. As a basis for understanding
- Students know the relative amount of incoming
solar energy compared with Earth's internal energy and the
energy used by society.
- Students know the fate of incoming solar radiation
in terms of reflection, absorption, and photosynthesis.
- Students know the different atmospheric gases
that absorb the Earth's thermal radiation and the mechanism
and significance of the greenhouse effect.
- * Students know the differing greenhouse conditions
on Earth, Mars, and Venus; the origins of those conditions;
and the climatic consequences of each.
- Heating of Earth's surface and atmosphere by the sun drives
convection within the atmosphere and oceans, producing winds
and ocean currents. As a basis for understanding this concept:
- Students know how differential heating of Earth
results in circulation patterns in the atmosphere and oceans
that globally distribute the heat.
- Students know the relationship between the rotation
of Earth and the circular motions of ocean currents and
air in pressure centers.
- Students know the origin and effects of temperature
- Students know properties of ocean water, such
as temperature and salinity, can be used to explain the
layered structure of the oceans, the generation of horizontal
and vertical ocean currents, and the geographic distribution
of marine organisms.
- Students know rain forests and deserts on Earth
are distributed in bands at specific latitudes.
- * Students know the interaction of wind patterns,
ocean currents, and mountain ranges results in the global
pattern of latitudinal bands of rain forests and deserts.
- * Students know features of the ENSO (El Niņo
southern oscillation) cycle in terms of sea-surface and
air temperature variations across the Pacific and some climatic
results of this cycle.
- Climate is the long-term average of a region's weather and
depends on many factors. As a basis for understanding this concept:
- Students know weather (in the short run) and
climate (in the long run) involve the transfer of energy
into and out of the atmosphere.
- Students know the effects on climate of latitude,
elevation, topography, and proximity to large bodies of
water and cold or warm ocean currents.
- Students know how Earth's climate has changed
over time, corresponding to changes in Earth's geography,
atmospheric composition, and other factors, such as solar
radiation and plate movement.
- * Students know how computer models are used
to predict the effects of the increase in greenhouse gases
on climate for the planet as a whole and for specific regions.
- Each element on Earth moves among reservoirs, which exist
in the solid earth, in oceans, in the atmosphere, and within
and among organisms as part of biogeochemical cycles. As a basis
for understanding this concept
- Students know the carbon cycle of photosynthesis and
respiration and the nitrogen cycle.
- Students know the global carbon cycle: the different
physical and chemical forms of carbon in the atmosphere,
oceans, biomass, fossil fuels, and the movement of carbon
among these reservoirs.
- Students know the movement of matter among reservoirs
is driven by Earth's internal and external sources of energy.
- * Students know the relative residence times and flow
characteristics of carbon in and out of its different reservoirs.
Structure and Composition of the Atmosphere
- Life has changed Earth's atmosphere, and changes in the atmosphere
affect conditions for life. As a basis for understanding this
- Students know the thermal structure and chemical composition
of the atmosphere.
- Students know how the composition of Earth's atmosphere
has evolved over geologic time and know the effect of outgassing,
the variations of carbon dioxide concentration, and the
origin of atmospheric oxygen.
- Students know the location of the ozone layer in the
upper atmosphere, its role in absorbing ultraviolet radiation,
and the way in which this layer varies both naturally and
in response to human activities.
- The geology of California underlies the state's wealth of
natural resources as well as its natural hazards. As a basis
for understanding this concept:
- Students know the resources of major economic importance
in California and their relation to California's geology.
- Students know the principal natural hazards in different
California regions and the geologic basis of those hazards.
- Students know the importance of water to society, the
origins of California 's fresh water, and the relationship
between supply and need.
- * Students know how to analyze published geologic hazard
maps of California and know how to use the map's information
to identify evidence of geologic events of the past and
predict geologic changes in the future.