FOSS Module Summary

Course Summary – Earth History (1st Ed.)


The FOSS Earth History Course emphasizes the use of knowledge and evidence to construct explanations about the processes and systems that have operated over geological time. Students investigate sedimentary rocks and fossils from the Grand Canyon to discover clues that reveal Earth's history. They study the processes that create sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks and organize their observations and inferences into the Rock Cycle. Students use the knowledge and data gained from observing rocks to make inferences about organisms, environments, and events that occurred over Earth's history.


  • Use observations and make inferences from evidence to answer questions, both their own and those posed by geologists.
  • Build the concept that a rock layer is a three-dimensional structure and that the Colorado Plateau is mainly made of sedimentary layers.
  • Investigate the properties of sand, sandstone and shale and the properties that create them.
  • Investigate the conditions that lead to the formation of a sedimentary rock and how rock layers provide evidence for ancient environments.
  • Become familiar with the geological time scale and begin to comprehend the enormous time span of Earth's history.
  • Understand how fossils provide evidence for prehistoric environments and how index fossils can be used to determine the relative age of sedimentary rocks.
  • Become familiar with changes that occurred over time in the fossil record.
  • Investigate the properties of metamorphic and igneous rock and the processes that form them.
  • Use what they have learned about sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks as a basis for understanding the Rock Cycle.
  • Become familiar with and acquire vocabulary concerning these concepts: erosion, deposition, sedimentation, layering, lithifaction, index fossil, rock formation, landform, prehistoric environment, evidence.
  • Exercise language, social studies, and math skills in the context of science.
  • Use scientific thinking processes to conduct investigations and build explanations: observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, relating, and inferring.

For a description of each investigation in the Earth History Course and the correlations to the National Science Education Standards, download the Course Summary PDF.

To view the PDF version of the course summary, you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in. Acrobat Reader is available free from Adobe.

©2005 UC Regents