Geography/Astronomy/Environmental Sciences

During this exercise you will (1) choose a suitable course topic, then go BEYOND the course materials (notes and textbook) to expand your knowledge of your topic and articulate your findings in a short, well written essay post which finishes by asking 1 well-founded question, (2) reply to one of the questions posed by your colleagues about their initial post.
More specifically, you are being asked to do the following:
Essay Portion
Write a well-constructed 400-500 word piece summarizing what you learn from sources and references outside of the course notes and textbook about a topic of your choosing related to one of the following:
• Understand the importance of “scale” as it relates to the Earth, both in terms of size (galaxies vs. atoms) and time (age of the Universe vs. timescales of atomic reactions)
• Explain why the Big Bang is an accepted fact
• Describe how the elements formed in stars
• Understand how and when the solar system and Earth formed
• Illustrate Earth’s internal structure and explain how it came about
• Explain the driving forces behind plate tectonics and its relationship to volcanoes and earthquakes
• Understand why evolution is a fact and not just a theory
• Explain how Earth’s life has changed through time
• Describe why Earth has been able to sustain liquid water at its surface for most of its history, and the long-term and short-term drivers of Earth’s climate
• Distinguish the different classes of Earth’s resources, and why that is important
• Understand why the appearance of humans is a new planetary era
o the reality and significance of planetary change caused by human activities
o the likelihood and conditions of intelligent life elsewhere in our galaxy
Your essay should have a short introductory sentence or two, and finish with a concluding sentence or two, with plenty of thoughtfully written scientific material in the middle.Don’t forget to reference where you got your information! Note that references are not counted in your essays word count.
How specific should you be regarding your choice of topic?
In order to effectively write about a subject beyond just restating what is already provided in the course notes and textbook, you will need to narrow down one of these learning goals considerably. Moreover, I want you to focus on a specific idea that falls within one of these broad course goals.
Required Question to Follow Essay
In this course, you are working toward developing strong skills in scientific analysis which include the following:
• Acquiring critical thinking skills by learning to carefully consider the scientific evidence behind a theory.
• Seeing the links among the various components of the “Earth System” and their relevance to real-world problems of concern such as climate change.
• Coming to understand how scientific ideas have evolved with time.
At the end of your essay you should use one of these skills in scientific analysis to write a substantive scientific question that was raised in your mind about the topic you chose. Your question and justification should be roughly 100 words (this is in addition to the 400 – 500 words for your essay itself).
• Include some explanation or justification for why you are asking this question. Do not simply pose the question and leave it at that. You must explain to your colleagues what it is about your piece AND your own knowledge that caused you to wonder about the issue you identify as a question.
• Here are some examples of the way a question might arise in your mind:
1. My research suggests xyz but I heard/read that abc (with a reference). I wonder if…, or it doesn’t make sense to me that …”, or similar …
2. “What my research said about xyz seems unexpected because … xyz (use logic, &/or a reference). I wonder where / how / why … .” etc.
3. “The findings of my research are interesting … and isn’t it also true that … (with a reference) …?” etc.

Citations
For your citations within the text itself, if there is a single author it should look like this (Scheinberg, 2018). If there are two authors, it should look like this (Scheinberg and Soderlund, 2018). If there are three or more authors, it should look like this (Scheinberg et al., 2018).
– Do not abbreviate the authors names in the reference list below your essay. In other words, even if there are 11 authors, you need to include them all! Also, you should write out the whole title of the journal and include the article title too. No abbreviations. For example,
Aaron L. Scheinberg, Krista M. Soderlund, Linda T. Elkins-Tanton. A basal magma ocean dynamo to explain the early lunar magnetic field. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2018; 492: 144 – 151.

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