Only 556 people have escaped the bonds of Earth's gravity and biology to experience the planet from space since 1961. This tiny fraction of the more than seven billion people currently on the planet has a unique perspective on Earth and on life as we know it.
Life on Earth is possible because our planet is protected from solar tempests and harmful rays by a magnetic field and the ozone layer. Additionally, we are the perfect distance from the stable, long-lasting sun, and our varied planetary surface supports remarkable biodiversity.
Use the classroom resources below to explore Earth's unique properties and processes.
This middle school activity and classroom idea set will help you explore the wonders of Earth
Use these materials to teach students about seasons, weather, and animals and their habitats
Students compare miniature models to real things. Then they explore maps and globes as miniature versions of places and the Earth.
Students use prior knowledge, a photo gallery, and a video to discuss what they already know about extreme weather on Earth and brainstorm a list of weather-related words. Then they organize the information they learned about weather events and conditions present for each type of weather event, and compare and contrast weather events and conditions.
Students use National Geographic Photo Ark images of threatened or extinct animals to research the dangers that affect the animals’ existence. They use the information to draw the habitats of these animals and investigate links between habitat, ecosystem, and animal livelihood or extinction.
Students use polystyrene foam balls and light bulbs to investigate the sun's intensity on the surface of the Earth.
Students examine characteristics of pterosaurs as they evolved over millions of years and consider how these adaptations made pterosaurs effective hunters and survivors.
Students compare ways of investigating weather on Earth and on other planets in our solar system. They use a video to discuss which different types of weather information might help us understand what the environments are like on each planet. Then students compare and contrast weather conditions for planets in our solar system.
Students discuss their feelings about extreme natural events, learn safety and preparation tips, and create safety signs.
Students use an interactive natural hazards map to construct their own maps of extreme natural events by United States region. Then they identify patterns.
Students brainstorm types of extreme natural events, describe the dangerous characteristics of each, and compare and contrast them.
Engage students in understanding their planet and its systems with these resources
Students prepare for BioBlitz by defining biodiversity and examining the characteristics of various plants and animals as examples of taxonomic groupings. Students learn about the number of species identified globally in key taxa and use this information to make predictions about the biodiversity they may observe during their local BioBlitz.
Students use prior knowledge, a photo gallery, and a video to discuss what they already know about extreme weather on Earth and brainstorm and categorize a list of weather-related words and phrases. Then they identify the necessary conditions for weather events to occur, and the factors that affect extreme weather. Students organize information about weather events and conditions, identify patterns, and make connections between weather and climate.
Students discuss how scientists learn about weather on other planets, brainstorm characteristics of extreme weather on other planets, and use a video to identify new information about weather in our solar system. Then students compare and contrast weather conditions for planets in our solar system.
Students watch a video of a gliding lizard to examine characteristics that enable flight. They record in chart form characteristics and abilities of four pterosaurs to see how these animals adapted to survive over millions of years.
This activity guides students through a process that uses the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework inquiry arc. Students identify and research compelling and supporting questions, leading them to develop explanations and arguments and, ultimately, to take action on issues related to the preservation of species.
Students examine animals that are examples of convergent evolution. They then analyze wings of bats, birds, and pterosaurs to see why these animals are not closely related.
Students group vertebrates and share their reasoning in classifying them. They compare their approach to Linnaean and modern systems in order to explore evolutionary relationships and the dynamic nature of classification.
Use these idea sets to explore the earth with your class
Google Earth makes a world of geographic information available to your students in a dynamic way over a web browser. Use these ideas to get familiar with the available tools and features, and infuse your students’ learning with geographic thinking and inquiry.
Get ideas for ways to celebrate the seasons around the world with your class.
India is home to endangered wildlife like the Asian elephant, tiger, and leopard and approximately 1.3 billion people. Use this set of ideas to engage your classroom in learning about biodiversity and conservation challenges and efforts in India
Find ways to engage students in environmental service learning projects in the classroom or on school grounds.
Explore these interactive story maps with your students
Use these videos to introduce students to different earth processes and species
In 1977, after decades of tediously collecting and mapping ocean sonar data, scientists began to see a fairly accurate picture of the seafloor emerge. The Tharp-Heezen map illustrated the geological features that characterize the seafloor and became a crucial factor in the acceptance of the theories of plate tectonics and continental drift. Today, these theories serve as the foundation upon which we understand the geologic processes that shape the Earth.
Veterinarian Dr. Zainal Zainuddin and wildlife biologist Dr. John Payne team up in the struggle to save the Sumatran rhino from extinction. To do this, they must fight the odds against an ever-decreasing population as they watch the rainforests of Borneo disappear. Fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos exist in the world today, and can only be found wild in the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra. Their goal: To boost the number of Sumatran rhino births every year.
Discover the ways in which air and water interact in a vast complex system. This video clip illustrates the interconnections between rising sea levels, forest fires, droughts, heat waves, typhoons, powerful storms, and flooding.
In Japan, the red crowned cranes symbolize beauty and longevity. On the island of Hokkaido, the crane population dwindled as their natural habitat became farmland. Watch this video to find out how local farmers help them fight extinction.
Video. Herd again finds a home where the buffalo roam.
Explore Earth’s geology, biology, and climate with nonfiction texts designed for the classroom
What do coral reefs and cement have in common? How can they slow global warming? Find out!
Historic English hedgerows foster biodiversity and peace of mind.
Past volcanic eruptions that have taken place at Yellowstone National Park have been global disasters. Today, scientists are trying to predict how this ticking time bomb will explode—or fizzle out.
How does the Red Cross use GIS technology?
Encourage your students to learn more about the Earth with these encyclopedic entries
Earth is the planet we live on, the third of eight planets in our solar system and the only known place in the universe to support life.
Earth’s core is the very hot, very dense center of our planet.
The mantle is the mostly-solid bulk of Earth's interior. The mantle lies between Earth's dense, super-heated core and its thin outer layer, the crust. The mantle is about 2,900 kilometers (1,802 miles) thick, and makes up a whopping 84% of Earth’s total volume.
A season is a period of the year that is distinguished by special climate conditions
One of the first things you probably do every morning is look out the window to see what the weather is like
Wind is the movement of air caused by the uneven heating of the Earth by the sun.
A flood happens when water overflows or soaks land that is normally dry. There are few places on Earth where people don’t need to be concerned about flooding.
The Beaufort scale, officially known as the Beaufort wind force scale, is a descriptive table
Hail is a type of precipitation, or water in the atmosphere. Hail is formed when drops of water freeze together in the cold upper regions of thunderstorm clouds.
The lithosphere is the solid, outer part of the Earth, including the brittle upper portion of the mantle and the crust.
The sun is an ordinary star, one of about 100 billion in our galaxy, the Milky Way. This ordinary star makes possible all life in the known universe.
Speciation is how a new kind of plant or animal species is created. Speciation occurs when a group within a species separates from other members of its species and develops its own unique characteristics.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of living organisms within a given area.
An endangered species is a type of organism that is threatened by extinction. Species become endangered for two main reasons: loss of habitat and loss of genetic variation.
Use these curriculum supported images with your students
A gallery of images from Geo Eye satellites of glaciers and glacially carved features around the globe.
A gallery of map illustrations showing the positions of tectonic plates in the geologic past.
A deadly fungus is spreading through amphibian communities around the world.
Explore the science behind earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, and hurricanes through maps, photos, and 3-D animations—and then make your own!
Check out these other National Geographic Programs!