meea logo


MEEA helps educators inspire Missourians to care about, understand and act for their environment.

Join button

donate button

Shop button

facebook icon twitter icon

New! Missouri Green Schools Program

Earth Quest: A game of Environmental Literacy

earth quest gameboard

Environmental Quizzes

K-2 biodiversity quiz

Coloring Sheets

channel catfish coloring sheet

Green Holidays Calendar


MEEA's 'Not the Standards' Guide to the Missouri Learning Standards - Earth and Space Sciences (ESS)

Goals of the MEEA NtS Guides
1.To help narrow the search for a specific standard with which a lesson aligns,
2. to make connections and guide curriculum development for standards covered in the same grade,
3. and to provide a map for the development of a concept from Kindergarten to High School so educators know how a concept fits into the big picture, and when might be the best time to teach it based on students' developmental ages.

How to Use the MEEA NtS Guides
1. If you have a lesson to teach, scan for the core idea, the component and then the learning standard that fits best – then look up the full standard description at
2. If you have an audience to teach, scan across its grade level to see which standards might line up with a lesson you have or would like to create – then look it up

Standards | NGSS Science and Engineering Practices | NGSS Cross Cutting Concepts

Phenomena | Socio-scientific Issues | 5 E Model | Abbreviations


Earth and Space Science Standards

(download a pdf)

3 Core ideas; 12 Components; 60 Learning Standards

Core Ideas >
Components v

ESS 1  Earth’s Place in the Universe  (19)

ESS 2  Earth’s Systems (25)

ESS 3 Earth and Human Activity (16)


The Universe and its Stars (9)

Earth Materials and Systems (10)

Natural Resources (5)


The Earth and the Solar System (5)

Plate Tectonics and Large Scale Systems (3)

Natural Hazards (2)


The History of Planet Earth (5)

The Role of Water in Earth’s Surface Processes (6)

Human Impacts on Earth’s System (5)



Weather and Climate (3)

Global Climate Change (2)



Biogeology (2)




ESS 1 Earth's Place in the Universe


ESS 1 Earth’s Place in the Universe

(# MLS)

A The Universe and its Stars (9)

B The Earth and the Solar System  (5)

C The History of Planet Earth (5)

K (5)


1. relate daylight to time of year


1 (3)

1. describe presence of sun/moon/stars in sky over time 2. use observations to predict their patterns


2 (4)



1. evidence Earth processes can be fast or slow

3 (3)




4 (4)



1.changes in landscape over time

5 (6)

1. distance of stars affects brightness

1. relate amount of daylight to season 2. graph seasonal changes in shadows/day/night/stars

6-8 (16)

1. lunar phases, eclipses 2. cyclic pattern of seasons 3. gravity -> star, planet motions

1. scale properties of solar system objects

1. geologic time scale

9-12 (19)

1. nuclear fusion and life span of sun 2. Big Bang Theory 3. how stars produce elements

1. Kepler’s Law

1. plate tectonics
2. Earth’s history from 4.6 bybp



Earth's Systems


ESS 2 Earth’s Systems  

(# MLS)

A Earth Materials and Systems (10)

B Plate Tectonics and Large Scale Systems (3)

C The Role of Water in Earth’s Surface Processes (6)

D Weather and Climate (4)

E Biogeology (2)

K (5)

1. use/share observations of weather patterns over time




1. how orgs change env to meet needs

1 (3)




1. connect weather data and weather phenomena

2 (4)

1. solutions to slow/prevent wind/water erosion

1. shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area

1. where solid or liquid water is found on earth



3 (3)




1. show seasonal weather using tables/graphs  2. world climates

4 (4)

1. how weathering and erosion shape earth

1. patterns of Earth’s features using maps




5 (6)

1. how geo-/bio-/hydro-/atmosphere interact


1. amounts and percentages of water, fresh water in reservoirs on earth


6-8 (16)

1. internal convection cycles
2. time and spatial scales of surface changes

1. plate motions from fossils, rocks, continents, seafloor

1. water cycle
2. weather conditions from air masses
3. atmospheric, oceanic circulation causes and patterns

9-12 (19)

1. continental and sea-floor feature formation 2. how D in one system can D another
3. matter cycling by thermal convection
4. how energy into and out of Earth’s system can change climate

1. investigate properties of water, effects on Earth materials and surface processes

1. quant model of carbon cycling

1. co-evol Earth’s system and life



Earth and Human Activity


ESS 3 Earth and Human Activity


A Natural Resources (5)

B Natural Hazards (2)

C Human Impacts on Earth’s System (6)

D Global Climate Change (3)


1. relationship between organisms’ needs and where they live


1. solutions to reduce human impacts on local environments














1. solutions to reduce weather hazard impact




1. solutions to reduce Earth processes impacts







1. ways communities use science to protect Earth


6 - 8

1. uneven distribution of resources due to Earth processes, human activities

1. forecast future catastrophes

1. effect of human population growth and per capita consumption on Earth 2. method for monitoring/minimizing human impact

1. analyze evidence of warming over last century


1. how natural resources, hazards, changes in climate have influenced human activity 2. competing design solutions for resources based on cost/benefit


1. simulate relations among natural resources, human populations, biodiversity
2. evaluate/refine technological solutions to human impacts

1. evidence-based forecast of global or regional climate change and impacts 2. how human activity affects Earth system relations positively and negatively



NGSS Science and Engineering Practices

1. ask questions and define problems
2. develop and use models
3. plan and carry out investigations/fair tests
4. analyze and interpret data
5. use mathematics and computational thinking
6. construct explanations and design solutions CEDS
7. engage in argument from evidence
8. obtain, evaluate and communicate information


NGSS Cross Cutting Concepts

1. Patterns
2. Cause and Effect: Mechanism and explanation
3. Scale, Proportion and Quantity
4. Systems and System Models
5. Energy and Matter: Flows, cycles and conservation
6. Structure and Function
7. Stability and Change



Instruction is more effective when students investigate compelling natural phenomena (in science) or work on meaningful design problems (in engineering). Characteristics of good phenomena for instruction are:

  1. Connected to Experience - they are relatively familiar to students' everyday experiences (keep diversity and accessibilty in mind)
  2. Observable - they are observable directly, or with the aid of demonstrations, images, video, scienctific procedures, tools or devices
  3. Relatively Complex - they are too complex for students to explain or design a solution for in one lesson, but not so complex that students can't gain meaningful understanding
  4. Multidimensional - they require students to develop understanding of and apply multiple NGSS standards while engaging in reading, writing, communication, and mathematics, and if possible, social studies (see 6 below)
  5. Information Rich - there is a ready supply of relevant data, images and text students can use to develop their understanding
  6. Meaningful - there is an audience or stakeholder community that cares about the findings or the products


Socio-scientific Issues

SSI are complex, contested social questions with a scientific component. They provide an authentic opportunity to dig into science concepts. All environmental issues are SSI.


5 E Model

Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate -




: proportional to, in relation to
-> causes or has an effect on
= equals
/ separating items on a list
delta symbol (a triangle) - change in or change