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Earth and Space Science

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Prerequisites: Qualifying math score and completion of grade 5 math

Course Format: Individually paced

Course Length: Typically 3 months

Recommended School Credit: One-half academic year

Course Code: EAS

Course Description


CTY Online Programs’s middle school science series includes individually paced Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth and Space Science courses. Students who are interested in scientific inquiry, problem solving, and critical thinking are engaged through an award-winning, vibrant online environment with graphics, animations, video, real-time feedback, activities, projects, and tests. Students apply knowledge and reinforce concepts learned in the lessons with “real world” interactive applications that build critical thinking and reinforce skills. The content in the middle school science series correlates to state and national curriculum standards and draws on software provided by Edmentum.

Earth and Space Science focuses on the structure and development of the earth over time and concludes with an introduction to astronomy.  This course includes units on mapping, plate tectonics, earthquakes and volcanoes, the rock cycle, weathering and erosion, the cycle of water, atmosphere and climate, our solar system, and the universe. Student progress is monitored through unit tests, comprehensive midterm and final exams, and two student projects.

Materials Needed

There are no required materials for this course.

Detailed Course Information

Course Details

Looking at Earth's Features Unit

Looking at Earth's Features examines the Earth from its core out to individual features found on its surface. Other topics include the water and air surrounding Earth, which provide resources to living things on the planet. Students understand how the Earth formed and the processes that change the Earth today and will continue to change the Earth in the future. Students also discover different ways that Earth's surface is represented on maps and how they can orient themselves in time and space using maps.

Earth's Composition

Explore the interior of the Earth by comparing general patterns of density, temperature, and pressure in the core, mantle, and crust. Also, discover how movements inside the Earth cause the lithosphere on Earth's surface to shift through plate tectonics, and how the outer layers of Earth provide resources for all living things.

Supporting Life: Earth's Surface and Landforms

Investigate the water, air, and life found on Earth's surface, as well as the constructive and destructive processes that shape our world. Students will explore the hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere, along with landforms such as mountains, plateaus, and plains. Also introduced are landforms resulting from erosion and deposition.


Investigate how people divide the Earth using lines of latitude and longitude, as well as time zones. Study the required map elements and how different types of maps affect the amount of distortion in the shape or size of Earth's features. Finally, use topographic maps to determine the elevation and contour of features on Earth's surface.

The Energetic Earth Unit

The Energetic Earth presents a complete picture of the numerous processes set into motion by the heat and convection currents within the Earth. Students will understand the theory of plate tectonics and the evidence that supports it. Earthquakes and volcanoes, two results of plate tectonics, allow students to gain a comprehensive understanding of how forces within Earth cause changes to occur on Earth's surface.

Plate Tectonics and Earth Movements

Discover the theory of plate tectonics and how it accounts for the movements of Earth's crust. Students will learn why tectonic movement takes place and will explore the different types of boundaries that occur between plates. In addition, students will examine the theory of Pangaea as it relates to the movement of the continents over time.


Discover the cause of earthquakes by studying stress and strain, types of faults, and primary, secondary, and surface earthquake waves. Explore how to detect earthquakes using seismographs and how the Richter and Mercalli Intensity Scales describe the strength of ground movement in different ways. Learn what to do before, during, and after an earthquake strikes.


Blow the top off of your previous understanding of Earth's volcanoes. Examine how the silica and water content of magma affects the type of lava that flows from a volcano and whether volcanic eruptions are explosive or non-explosive. Learn the characteristics of different types and activities of volcanoes as well as how they can benefit the Earth, despite the destruction they often cause.

Rocks and Soil Unit

Rocks and Soil provides a fascinating overview of the dynamic processes of rock and soil formation. Explore the ways in which rocks form, as well as how one rock type can be converted into other rock types through the various pathways of the rock cycle. Students will also discover why rock weathers and is broken down during the process of soil formation, different characteristics of soil, as well as why erosion happens and ways to slow it.

Rocks and the Rock Cycle

Students will explore minerals and rocks, learning about the characteristics all minerals share, as well as how to distinguish between different minerals. In addition, students examine different types of rocks and how rocks can change from one type to another through the action of the rock cycle

Weathering, Soil, and Erosion

Examine how mechanical and chemical weathering act on the surface of Earth, breaking rock down into sediment that eventually forms soil. Students will explore the different factors that affect weathering and soil formation, as well as characteristics of soil layers and factors that affect soil, such as color, texture, and fertility.

Water in Our World Unit

Water in Our World explores where Earth's water resources are located and how water moves and changes from a liquid to a gas and back again through the water cycle. Investigate the mysteries of the oceans, including the various ocean zones and the many resources our oceans provide. Coverage of fresh water illustrates how it moves across Earth's surface in streams and rivers, shaping the landscape through erosion and deposition.

The Cycle and Movements of Water

Students will discover properties that make water such a unique and interesting substance. An examination of where Earth's water resources are located provides a springboard into a study of how water moves from location to location through the action of the water cycle.

The Oceans

Dive into the depths of the largest body of water on Earth by exploring how the oceans formed and general characteristics of ocean water. Discover the various zones of the ocean, the resources humans find in the oceans, and how these resources may be in danger.

Fresh Water

Sail through Earth's fresh water supply and differentiate between sources of fresh water on Earth's surface and below ground. Investigate networks of streams and rivers, the different stages of river development, and how rivers reshape Earth's surface through erosion and deposition. Students will soak up ways in which fresh water is used and polluted, and identify methods to conserve this vital resource.

Weather and Atmospheric Processes Unit

Weather and Atmospheric Processes blasts students high into Earth's atmosphere where they learn how it protects us from the sun's harmful rays and how it is integral to many important processes on Earth. In their study of weather, students investigate the many causes of fair and stormy conditions, and even try their hand at predicting weather patterns. Understanding weather leads the way into an investigation of the wide range of climates on Earth, and how temperature and precipitation affect the diversity of plants and animals found around the world.

The Atmosphere

Investigate the air surrounding Earth by studying the five layers of the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect, and how the atmosphere plays a role in the water cycle. Also explore how temperature differences in the atmosphere drive local and global winds and how pollution affects the air we breathe every day.


Discover the reason for wind, rain, hurricanes, tornadoes, and every other type of weather that blows our way. Investigate what causes weather systems and fronts, distinguish different cloud types and know the weather they'll bring, and take your turn as a forecaster when you learn to read and interpret weather maps.


Navigate different biomes while exploring how average temperatures and precipitation levels dictate the type of climate and the types of organisms found in them. Observe how factors such as elevation, bodies of water, and prevailing winds can affect average temperature and precipitation levels in a specific area. Investigate different factors that cause climate change, how climates have changed in the past, how they are currently changing, and what measures can be taken to slow climate change in the future.

Earth, Space, and the Universe Unit

Earth, Space, and the Universe examines the mysteries of outer space with a glimpse of the solar system including the nine planets and other objects held in orbit by the sun. A fascinating trip around the sun, Earth, and Earth's moon provides students with an understanding of night and day, the lunar cycle, seasonal change, and how important the sun and moon are to life on Earth. Students will also explore the far reaches of the universe, where they will learn about stars and galaxies, as well as techniques astronomers use to study the vast reaches of space.

The Solar System

Blast off into a deeper awareness of the planets and other bodies that orbit our sun. Investigating how gravity affects objects in space explains how giant masses of rock or gas that are the inner and outer planets function as a system held in continual orbit. In addition to details of the planets, moons, comets, and asteroids, students will enhance their appreciation for how lucky we are to have just the right conditions on Earth to support life as we know it.

The Sun, Earth, and Moon

Take a trip around the sun, Earth, and moon system to explore how they affect life on Earth. Discover the true causes of night and day, seasonal change, and even spectacular auroras and eclipses. Investigate the dynamic sun and how it produces enormous amounts of energy. Explore the mysterious moon by learning about its interior and terrain and why its appearance constantly changes in the night sky.

The Universe

Go beyond the everyday with an examination of times, speeds, and distances involved in the study of space, as well as the special tools astronomers use. Explore the many different characteristics of stars and how groups of stars form the galaxies scattered throughout the universe. Students will discover why astronomers believe our universe formed with an explosion by investigating the Big Bang theory and how red and blue shifts support ideas that the universe is expanding.


Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

This course requires that the student use a web browser with the Adobe Flash plugin. Note that many tablets and handhelds (particularly the iPad) do not support Flash and cannot view the lessons.

This course uses an online virtual classroom for discussions with the instructor. The classroom works on standard computers with the Adobe Connect Add-in or Adobe Flash plugin, and also tablets or handhelds that support the Adobe Connect Mobile appStudents who are unable to attend live sessions will need a computer with the Adobe Connect Add-in or Adobe Flash plugin installed to watch recorded meetings. The Adobe Connect Add-in, Adobe Flash plugin, and Adobe Connect Mobile app are available for free download. Students who do not have the Flash plug-in installed or enabled on their browsers will be prompted to download and install the Adobe Connect add-in when accessing the virtual classroom.





This demo requires the Flash plugin

Earth and Space Science Demo

CTY Online Programs Science - Comments and Feedback from Students, Parents, and Teachers



"Fabulous course! The content is informative and appropriately challenging for this age level, well-organized and interesting. I think my daughter liked the experiments the best. I anticipate that she will also take the Biology and Chemistry courses in the future. Thank you!"

"The instructor was extremely positive and attentive. We especially loved her interactive 'question of the week' which challenged my son to do his own scientific research and inspired discussions about how science is applied to real life at our dinner table. Excellent course."

"The instructor is truly outstanding. She had a tremendously positive impact on my son. In addition to helping him build a richer understanding of the course material, she helped him to further develop self-confidence and determination."