Educator Features

Earth Systems Connections
Cartoon drawing of Pixel the Satellite pointing to an image of the Earth
Earth Systems Connections (ESC) is a series of math, science and technology lessons for students in grades K-5. There are eight learning modules aimed at helping students recognize the interconnected nature of the Earth system and appreciate the technology used to study our changing planet. An online version of the ESC preview CD is now available.

Image to right: Pixel helps kids put a face on the objects orbiting the planet
Credit: Earth Systems Connections

The star of ESC is Pixel the Satellite, an Earth-orbiting cartoon character featured in animations that complement the various lessons. "We discovered in our pilot school testing that many students had no frame of reference within which to understand satellites," ESC co-creator Lee Vierling said. "In order to overcome these conceptual difficulties, we created Pixel as a way to literally put a face on these unseen objects orbiting around our planet."

The preview CD contains 11 lessons representing a wide range of content across varying grade levels. The "Playground Pounding" lesson, for example, demonstrates the close relationship between soils, plants and people, while "Satellite Mobiles" uses a photo essay to introduce students to satellites and their various functions. Each lesson is correlated with national science and math standards and contains an overview, list of materials needed, vocabulary words, step-by-step procedure and student assessment tools.

ESC can be accessed online at, and the preview CD will soon be available through the Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE) at The full release of ESC, which will include upwards of 50 lessons, is scheduled for this summer.

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