Core Curriculum Content Standards

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NJ World Class Standards
Content Area: Science

Content Area



5.4 Earth Systems Science: All students will understand that Earth operates as a set of complex, dynamic, and interconnected systems, and is a part of the all-encompassing system of the universe.


B. History of Earth: From the time that Earth formed from a nebula 4.6 billion years ago, it has been evolving as a result of geologic, biological, physical, and chemical processes.

By the end of grade

Content Statement


Cumulative Progress Indicator (CPI)


Fossils provide evidence about the plants and animals that lived long ago, including whether they lived on the land or in the sea as well as ways species changed over time.


Use data gathered from observations of fossils to argue whether a given fossil is terrestrial or marine in origin.


Successive layers of sedimentary rock and the fossils contained in them tell the factual story of the age, history, changing life forms, and geology of Earth.


Interpret a representation of a rock layer sequence to establish oldest and youngest layers, geologic events, and changing life forms.


Earth’s current structure has been influenced by both sporadic and gradual events. Changes caused by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions can be observed on a human time scale, but many geological processes, such as mountain building and the shifting of continents, are observed on a geologic time scale.


Examine Earth’s surface features and identify those created on a scale of human life or on a geologic time scale.


Moving water, wind, and ice continually shape Earth’s surface by eroding rock and soil in some areas and depositing them in other areas.


Determine if landforms were created by processes of erosion (e.g., wind, water, and/or ice) based on evidence in pictures, video, and/or maps.


Erosion plays an important role in the formation of soil, but too much erosion can wash away fertile soil from ecosystems, including farms.


Describe methods people use to reduce soil erosion.


Today’s planet is very different than early Earth. Evidence for one-celled forms of life (bacteria) extends back more than 3.5 billion years.


Correlate the evolution of organisms and the environmental conditions on Earth as they changed throughout geologic time.


Fossils provide evidence of how life and environmental conditions have changed. The principle of Uniformitarianism makes possible the interpretation of Earth’s history. The same Earth processes that occurred in the past occur today.


Evaluate the appropriateness of increasing the human population in a region (e.g., barrier islands, Pacific Northwest, Midwest United States) based on the region’s history of catastrophic events, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and floods.


The evolution of life caused dramatic changes in the composition of Earth’s atmosphere, which did not originally contain oxygen gas.


Trace the evolution of our atmosphere and relate the changes in rock types and life forms to the evolving atmosphere.


Relative dating uses index fossils and stratigraphic sequences to determine the sequence of geologic events.


Correlate stratigraphic columns from various locations by using index fossils and other dating techniques.


Absolute dating, using radioactive isotopes in rocks, makes it possible to determine how many years ago a given rock sample formed.


Account for the evolution of species by citing specific absolute-dating evidence of fossil samples.