ARCHIVED CONTENT: In December 2020, the CZO program was succeeded by the Critical Zone Collaborative Network (CZ Net) ×

Educational Resources

Earth Systems Science: Exploring Change in the Critical Zone

View of the alpine ecology research station Niwot Ridge located in the Front Range of Colorado.
View of the alpine ecology research station Niwot Ridge located in the Front Range of Colorado.
Understand how the Boulder Creek CZO's geology, hydrology, ecology, and climate interact to provide water in 3 learning modules: Foundations for Flow; Fire and Water; and Ice, Snow and H20.

Grades 3 - 8
Hydrology • Geology/Chronology • Biology/Ecology • Climatology/Meteorology
Curriculum • Activity

Educational Objectives

Module 1: Foundations for Flow
Learners will be able to:

  • Describe and evaluate the impact of various geologic events and processes on the current structure of the Boulder Creek Watershed
  • Differentiate between constructive and destructive geologic forces impacting the Boulder Creek Watershed
  • Describe the role of glacial and stream erosion in shaping the structure and hydrology in the Boulder Creek Watershed
  • Describe major events in Colorado’s climate over time and how they impacted the Boulder Creek Watershed

Module 2: Fire and Water
Learners will:

  • Relate changes to map-based images of Colorado over a large geologic time scale to major events in our geologic history
  • Describe relationships between existing geologic features and the processes and forces that created them
  • Will match rock samples to descriptions of the geologic processes/events that formed them

Module 3: Ice, Snow and H2O
Learners will:

  • Simulate and describe the impacts of glacial erosion over time using a model
  • Identify characteristic features of glacial erosion in their model landscape
  • Describe the role of glaciers in shaping the Boulder Creek Watershed

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NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns | Cause and Effect - Mechanism and Explanation | Energy and Matter - Flows, Cycles, and Conservation | Structure and Function

NGSS Science & Engineering Practices: Asking Questions and Defining Problems | Planning and Carrying Out Investigations | Analyzing and Interpreting Data | Developing and Using Models | Engaging in Argument from Evidence

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas: PS3 - Energy | LS2 - Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics | ESS2 - Earth’s Systems | ESS3 - Earth and Human Activity

Observatory: Boulder CZO

Author(s): Eric Carpenter, Stacey Forsyth, Kristi Dahl, Laura Cecil, Melissa Foster, Rachel Gabor (INSTAAR)

Funding: Earth Systems Science: Exploring Change in the Critical Zone is a collaboration between the Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory Program, the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, and the University of Colorado Boulder – Science Discovery Program. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0724960.