The Earth Science standards connect the study of Earth’s composition, structure, processes, and history; its atmosphere, fresh water, and oceans; and its environment in space. The standards emphasize historical contributions in the development of scientific thought about Earth and space. The standards stress the interpretation of maps, charts, tables, and profiles; the use of technology to collect, analyze, and report data; and the utilization of science skills in systematic investigation. Problem solving and decision making are an integral part of the standards, especially as they relate to the costs and benefits of utilizing Earth’s resources. Major topics of study include plate tectonics, the rock cycle, Earth history, the oceans, the atmosphere, weather and climate, and the solar system and universe.
The Earth Science standards continue to focus on student growth in understanding the nature of science. This scientific view defines the idea that explanations of nature are developed and tested using observation, experimentation, models, evidence, and systematic processes. The nature of science includes the concepts that scientific explanations are based on logical thinking; are subject to rules of evidence; are consistent with observational, inferential, and experimental evidence; are open to rational critique; and are subject to refinement and change with the addition of new scientific evidence. The nature of science includes the concept that science can provide explanations about nature and can predict potential consequences of actions, but cannot be used to answer all questions.
-from Virginia Standards of Learning