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Advancing Earth Science Instruction across High School Biology, Chemistry, and Physics in Baltimore City Public Schools.

Goals, Objectives and Theories of Change

Lead Scientist(s): Dr. Alan R. Berkowitz

EarthX is a collaboration of school district teachers and educators, scientists, and education researchers hat is helping bring Earth science and compelling environmental phenomena into high school Biology, Chemistry, and Physics courses in Baltimore. The EarthX project builds off of the success of the Integrated Chemistry and Earth Science (ICE) project, an earlier collaboration between Cary Institute and Baltimore City Public Schools.

Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools) is committed to fulfilling the Maryland-adopted NGSS requirement for Earth science instruction in all grade bands and is accomplishing this at the high school level through an integration approach. All high school Biology, Chemistry, and Physics teachers in City Schools will use EarthX assessments and participate in EarthX professional learning (PL). In this way, the project will reach the entire, highly diverse student population attending traditional City Schools.

In all three courses, EarthX has been developing, testing, and refining assessments that have been able to provide real- or near-real-time feedback to teachers and students, and that have been used in the project’s professional learning activities and supports. EarthX assessments are designed to be 4-dimensional, featuring 2 disciplinary core ideas (1 Earth science and 1 from the course discipline), 1 science or engineering practice and 1 crosscutting concept. Assessments have been designed to support  teaching and learning about phenomena in the local-to-global environment in ways that are both engaging and accessible to Baltimore students and teachers.

Biology, Chemistry, and Physics teachers will benefit from EarthX instructional supports, along with ongoing professional learning that is collaborative both within schools across disciplines, and across schools within disciplines. Many school districts around the nation face this same dual challenge of Earth science integration and multi-dimensional, ambitious and equitable teaching. EarthX resources, strategies, insights, and research findings will be disseminated and made widely available.

EarthX team
The EarthX Design Team Teachers (left to right, back row): Shalise Allison, Donshay Wilson, Kyle Gregory, Daniel Callahan, Gerad Bandos, Jake Ecker, Brandon Liu, Rhandy Almadrones, Virgilio Alcayde, Xander Conte, and (left to right, front row): Dylan Hodges, Sherina Bonaparte-LaTore, Tamirate Aklog, Jaspreet Pannu, Rocelle Leron, Sarah Carpe. Not pictured: Stephanie Davis, James Epres, Nina Groseclose, Cassidy Johnson, Ethel Panganiban.

EarthX at a glance

Supported by a grant from the Discovery Research K-12 (DR12) program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for $3,770,442 ($856,471 to Baltimore City Public Schools).

Principal Investigator: Dr. Alan R. Berkowitz, Head of Education at Cary Institute, Millbrook, NY.
Project Coordinator: Angela Hood, Program Leader - Environmental Science Education at Cary Institute, stationed in Baltimore, MD.

The EarthX Leadership Team includes:

  • Ms. Angela Hood, Cary Institute, Education Program Leader
  • Mr. David Fischer, Cary Institute, Research Associate and Data Manager
  • Dr. Kevin Garner, Baltimore City Public Schools, Co-PI
  • Mr. Ed Mitzel, Baltimore City Public Schools, EarthX Specialist
  • Dr. Beth Covitt, University of Montana, Co-PI
  • Ms. Annie Caires, University of Montana, Research Associate
  • Dr. Jonathon Grooms, George Washington University, Co-PI
  • Ms. Lauren Browning, George Washington University, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Dr. Karen Draney, University of California Berkeley, Co-PI
  • Dr. Smriti Mehta, University of California Berkeley, Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Dr. Jessica Bean, Museum of Paleontology, University of California Berkeley, Science Education Specialist
  • Dr. Carolyn Parker, American University, External Evaluator.
  • Mr. Martin Schmidt, McDonogh School, Earth Science Education Specialist

The project began 1 September 2022 and will run for four years.

The project has developed assessments for the Biology, Chemistry and Physics high school courses:

  • Beginning of Unit Assessments for four of the seven units in each course, which provide teachers with a diagnostic tool that is centered around Earth science topics integrated into their upcoming unit.
  • Embedded Assessments spread across 4 units in each discipline, each addressing an Earth science and core subject Disciplinary Core Idea, as well as Science Practices and a Cross Cutting Concepts.  
  • End of Unit Assessments items based on Earth science topics integrated into the curriculum and addressed in other EarthX assessments.

The project has engaged Development Team Teachers starting in the winter of 2023 (Year 1).

  • Seven teachers, three from physics and biology each, one from chemistry, started in spring 2023 to collaborate with the EarthX leadership team to help guide, develop, pilot test and refine the first round of assessments and professional learning activities and resources. These teachers continue to participate in our larger cohort, and ideally, will remain engaged for at least three full years.
  • 11 additional traditional science teachers (biology, chemistry, and physics) joined in summer 2023 to carry out similar activities and participate in the Summer Academy of 2023.
  • Between the fall of 2023 and spring 2024, an additional six City Schools traditional science teachers joined the cohort.
  • Beginning in spring 2024, a sub-group of these teachers are participating in multi-day intensive observations in which researchers will collect data about responsive teaching and integrated Earth science learning and practices.  
  • A small group of additional teachers will be recruited in the third year of the project to collect data for project improvement and research purposes.

In the summers of 2024 and 2025, the EarthX leadership will host City Schools teachers in weeks-long intensive curriculum enhancement workshops that will strengthen the depth of integration of Earth science core topics within the City Schools traditional high school science curriculum. This work will complement the assessments to better support responsive teaching and learning centered around compelling Earth science phenomena in the local-to-global environment in high school Biology, Chemistry, and Physics courses in Baltimore.

EarthX will begin to contribute to systemic professional learning opportunities and supporting resources for all high school science teachers beginning in August 2024 (Year 3 of the project).

For more information, contact EarthX Director, Dr. Alan R. Berkowitz, Head of Education, Cary Institute, Millbrook, NY. Phone: 845-677-7600 ext. 311. Email:

CADRE 2023 DRK-12 PI Meeting
BES 2023 Annual Meeting
MAST/TEEAM 2023 Fall Conference
MAEOE 2024 Annual Conference
NARST 2024 International Conference
NSTA 2024 National Conference

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