Earth’s Systems | TASC Test Science
The TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ highlights the Earth’s systems as a high emphasis topic for the Science subtest. The study of Earth’s systems is a more recent development in the general field of science. However, scientists have developed a deep and complex understanding of these systems. Scientists are also interested in how these systems act on one another, in both positive and negative ways.
This post will provide you with some basic terms to help you navigate the field, some examples of interactions, an in-depth look at one system in particular, and some insight into human responses to preserve these systems.
According to the Next Generation Science Standards, which the TASC test aligns to for the Science subtest, there is a set of terms that you must be able to describe. These terms include:
- Geosphere: refers to all the rocks, or “hard parts,” of the Earth. It may also be referred to as the lithosphere.
- Biosphere: refers to all living things on Earth.
- Hydrosphere: refers to all of Earth’s bodies of water.
- Atmosphere: refers to the mixture of gases that surround the Earth.
Scientists have examined the ways in which these spheres interact and influence one another. For example, many of the natural disasters that affect the geosphere and biosphere originate from the four spheres as a result of:
- Movements in the rock layers of the geosphere
- Weather patterns in the atmosphere
- Or man-made disasters caused by humans in the biosphere.
These natural and man-made disasters include hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and even erosion.
The University of California, Berkeley has created easy-to-read charts that allow students to see how these different spheres interact with one another.
In Focus: Earth’s Water Systems
The Standards particularly ask students to understand the importance of the hydrosphere. The water systems on Earth consist of oceans, lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. According to the United States Geological Survey’s Water Science School (USGS), water is also present in the surface of the earth, air, clouds, polar ice caps and glaciers, and even plants and animals.
These bodies may be salt water, fresh water, or saline. Of the total water on Earth, 96.5 percent of water is salt, 2.5 percent is fresh, and 0.9 is other saline water. The majority of fresh water exists in the Earth’s glaciers and ice caps. Only 30.1 percent of fresh water exists in the surface of the earth, and 1.2 percent exists on the surface.
According to the USGS, “of the small amount that is actually fresh water, only a relatively small portion is available to sustain human, plant, and animal life.”
A Note on Preservation
The Standards also want you to be able to describe the “ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.” In other words, you should be familiar with preservation – particularly as it pertains to the Earth’s systems.
In recent years, there has been a movement for people to be more “green.” This generally refers to limiting pollution and improving human interaction with the Earth through mindfulness. Through recycling and reusing movements, human-made products that are derived from non-renewable resources, such as plastic (which is made from oil), have been repurposed rather than simply thrown away. This has reduced the amount of garbage produced by humans, which impacts issues such as pollution, soil contamination, and even invasive drilling projects in the long run.
The green movement is largely dependent on an individual nation, state, or community. For example, some states and cities in the United States – like New York City – mandate recycling and tax citizens who do not follow this law.
Are you interested in Earth systems? Find information on specialty projects on these subjects as you continue to develop your understanding of these intricate systems and as you prepare for the TASC Science subtest.