Earth and Human Activity | Science

February 11, 2015 thetasctest
acuity-teachers-lounge-837x563 Now that you know how the Earth fits into the universe, you can start to turn your attention to the Earth itself. As you consider the Earth’s systems, remember to study the way human beings interact with the Earth, and how that interaction impacts our world. The connection between the Earth and human activity is a high emphasis topic on the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™. You might already know that the TASC Science subtest is based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). According to the NGSS, there are three primary components to this high-emphasis topic:
  1. Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.
  2. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the Earth.
  3. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
What exactly does that mean in terms of TASC Test Science? And when it comes to studying the Earth and human activity, where should you start? We suggest starting with the breakdown of each point, and then explore the sources we’ve used for even more information.

1. Natural Hazards

NGSS emphasizes the difference between natural hazards such as volcanic eruptions and severe weather, which are preceded by other natural events that indicate what will happen, and natural hazards that occur without notice, such as earthquakes. On the TASC Test Science subtest, you will see a range of data to respond to. It may include information about the locations, magnitudes, or frequencies of the natural hazards. Additionally, natural hazards discussed on the subtest could include:
  • Droughts
  • Earthquakes
  • Floods
  • Forest fires
  • Mass wasting
  • Severe weather
  • Tornadoes
  • Tsunamis
  • Volcanic eruptions
There are many governmental sites that provide information on these hazards, the predictors that may or may not be associated with them, and the geographical locations in which they are most common. We recommend starting with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)Ready.gov, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

2. Monitoring and Minimizing Human Impact

Test takers will be asked to think about and explore solutions to the problem: How can we monitor and minimize human impact on the environment? The TASC Science subtest might explore the following types of human impact:
  • Water usage: can include the human habit of taking water from streams or aquifers or constructing dams or levees.
  • Land usage: might include urban development, agriculture, or removal of wetlands
  • Pollution: can include air, weather, or land damage caused by pollution
There are many organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), discuss these environmental issues and potential solutions to the question above. Remember, however, that these sites often have specific goals and strategies for achieving those goals that might demonstrate some bias be irrelevant to your studies.

 3. Earth’s Natural Resources

This area of TASC Test Science focuses on the rate of consumption, by human beings, of both food sources and natural resources. The natural resources the test might focus on can include freshwater sources, mineral depositions, and energy sources. NGSS emphasizes the impact on Earth’s natural resources, such as:
  • Changes to the appearance, make-up, or structure of Earth’s systems
  • Rates at which these changes occur
  • Human reaction to these changes or shortages
As our population continues to grow, we need more food sources and more natural resources to support us. The increase in demand impacts the Earth. This has been a source of debate and concern for quite some time. In fact, President Clinton created the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) in June 1993 to research and report on this issue. NGSS is careful to note: “The consequences of increases in human populations and consumption of natural resources are described by science, but science does not make the decisions for the actions society takes.”
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