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Earth Science

Earth Science is a multi-domain science course that holistically (and robustly!) studies the land underfoot, the sky overhead, the waters below, and the life that lives upon, within, and through this world. Starting with our place in the cosmos, we move through the world studying the rocks and minerals, earthquakes and volcanoes, weather and oceanography, and even the methods by which we claim knowledge about the Earth and its history. In the process, we integrate physical science with biology and chemistry to explore the world all around in an interconnected and interdisciplinary way.

While we use the textbook as a key reference on a daily basis, we just as often fly around the world using Google Earth to visit landmarks and examples of what we’re studying in the real world. Students routinely research on their own and in groups, reporting about their findings in class and engaging in meta-studies where we connect individual projects to discern greater patterns. From virtual backpacking trips to testing minerals in our back yards to creating accurate weekly weather forecasts, we bring our knowledge of Earth Science to real systems and real situations. We can truly say that while we cover our curriculum, we constantly uncover it, too, from the ground up.

At Scholé Academy, we have carefully considered how we should engage our contemporary culture as those who believe that Christ is the Truth (John 14:6), and that all truth has its source in him. We think it is important to provide our upper school students (in grades 7-12) with tools and opportunities for critically examining various cultural trends, issues and mores through the lens of orthodox, Christian beliefs. Being confident in the truth revealed to us in creation, the Scriptures, and the tradition of the church, we are not afraid to follow the truth and its implications nor to address error and falsehood. … Read more about our Faith & Culture.

Image of text book for Earth Science

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

  • Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home, 2nd Ed., by Kevin Nelstead, Novare Science and Math
  • Notebook paper
  • A binder or binder section devoted to the course
  • Ruler
  • Graph Paper
  • A more complete list of lab supplies can be found ​here​, which includes some of the materials found in the lab kit listed below. Instructor will provide more guidance as the course proceeds, as some labs may be added or omitted.

Chris Hall, Lead Science Instructor, has a BA in philosophy from Gettysburg College and an MAT in elementary education from Towson University. He has been a classroom educator and administrator for 25 years, having served in public, independent, and classical schools. In that time, he has served as a classroom teacher in grades K-12, primarily as a science educator, PK-8 Science Department Chair, and a Lower School Academic Dean. Along with his professional pedigree, he is a lifelong practitioner of several of the common arts profiled in his book Common Arts Education: Renewing the Classical Tradition of Training the Head, Hands, and Heart, and the founder of Always Learning Education, an organization dedicated to teaching, learning, and propagating the common arts. He lives on a small, homesteaded farm in central Virginia with his wife and three homeschooled sons.

Quarter 1

  1. Introduction to Earth Science
  2. Earth’s Orbit and Seasons
  3. Phases of the Moon and Eclipses
  4. Celestial Navigation
  5. Latitude and Longitude
  6. Map Projections
  7. Topographic Maps
  8. Atoms, Elements, and Crystals

Quarter 2

  1. Gemstones
  2. Mineral Classification and Properties
  3. Mineral Resources and Mines
  4. The Rock Cycle
  5. Igneous Rocks
  6. Sedimentary Rocks
  7. Metamorphic Rocks
  8. Fossil Fuels

Quarter 3

  1. Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics
  2. Plate Boundaries and Associated Landforms
  3. Volcanoes
  4. Earthquakes
  5. Interior of the Earth
  6. Sedimentary Processes: Transportation and Deposition, Differential Weathering
  7. Soils
  8. Soil Testing
  9. Oceanography- Definitions, Seawater, Currents and Waves, Tides

Quarter 4

  1. Marine Life
  2. The Atmosphere- Properties, Energy, Circulation
  3. Clouds and Precipitation
  4. Air Masses and Fronts
  5. Severe Weather
  6. Weather Forecasting
  7. Geologic Time, Relative Age, and Absolute Dating
  8. Fossils
  9. Overview of Earth’s Geologic History (Eras, Ages, Periods, Epochs) 

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.


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First, read the available course descriptions, noting prerequisites, target grades, and course objectives. If you think your student is prepared for the course, go ahead and register. After registration, a placement assessment may be provided to students, depending on the course and the student’s previous enrollment with Scholé Academy. Registration is finalized when the student’s placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.


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