Earth Science 9-12
“To have a vision of the cosmic plan, in which every form of life depends on directed movements which have effects beyond their conscious aim, is to understand the child’s work and be able to guide it better.” Maria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1995, p. 147.
At the 9-12 level, the study of non-living things, phenomena, and aspects of our world and universe takes on an in-depth perspective that has remained unexplored by the students to this point. Although much of what they learn in this area of the curriculum is well known on a superficial level, the breadth and depth of understanding attained during the three-year cycle will enable many students to possibly never again feel that a goal is unattainable, an idea is impossible, or the miraculous is beyond comprehension. Now they are able to see the processes through which scientists have reached certain theories and conclusions. The students will be able to recognize human error and fallibility, as well as the possibilities that instinct, research, teamwork, and logic can achieve.“…the more the children know the more they will see and then the further they will walk. To explore, one needs to be filled with intellectual interests, and these it is our business to give.” Maria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1995, p. 163.
Beginning with what they learned in the 6-9 classroom, the students review the familiar, but always take it a step further towards the abstract. The curriculum once again begins with the larger part of the world around them. First, the universe is explored by looking at its origin and then delving in-depth into the possibilities of life existing elsewhere—the necessary pre-conditions and the probability that Earth is not the only planet with these ideal conditions for life. Then, the Earth is looked at from numerous vantage points in order to attain the best possible understanding and appreciation of the most important planet we know.
By reviewing the formation of Earth, it gives the students an opportunity to learn about processes which shaped our Earth billions of years ago as well as those that continue shaping it today. The effects of shifting tectonic plates, earthquakes, volcanoes, water, glaciers, and wind on our environment is discussed on a level which takes the students to scientific explanations for the causes of these phenomena, as well as the consequences. They learn about the inner workings, as we perceive them to be today, of their world and gain a new understanding about how our continents are moving, how wind and water effects the landscape, why volcanoes erupt (as well as the various types of volcanoes), how mountains form, and why there are earthquakes. They are also able to experience and cause some of these phenomena themselves (although on a minor scale) through scientific experiments.“We then become witnesses to the development of the human soul; the emergence of the New Man, who will no longer be the victim of events but, thanks to his clarity of vision, will become able to direct and to mold the future of mankind.” Maria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1995, p. 9.
From there, the students learn about their atmosphere and weather, as well as environmental concerns some people have about the future of their world. Students research up-to-date information on the effects pollution, waste, and deforestation have on the environment and learn to make informed choices concerning their place and part in maintaining a healthy community. Additionally, the study of mapping helps the students achieve a feeling of independence in the ability to guide and direct themselves when they are out on their own. And, while studying natural resources, the students become aware of those renewable and non-renewable resources currently available on Earth, ensuring that their understanding of what can be done to conserve energy is as accurate as the latest information available.
Within the Montessori curriculum, Earth Science is widely incorporated. For most every lesson, the students can write their own story for language and can do in-depth research on a more specific topic than was covered in the lesson. Math is covered whenever calculations need to be done (such as with temperature and measurements). Geography and history are automatically included when introducing many lessons; and zoology is incorporated when discussing the effects of natural phenomena on wildlife native to the effected biomes.“He absorbs the life going on about him and becomes one with it, …” Maria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1995, p. 101.
Earth Science is an exciting subject for many students due to the often miraculous and wondrous nature of the material. Because it is a natural part of their world and something they witness on a daily basis, the study of this subject is both enlightening and inspiring.