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Integrating Chemistry and Earth Science

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

The Integrating Chemistry and Earth science (ICE) team developed a new unit for Baltimore City high schools that brings Earth science into the chemistry curriculum. ICE includes concepts, datasets, and protocols in and about Baltimore, addressing the question, "How does chemistry shape my world?" The ICE model may find application in other places around the country.

Every high school student in Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools) will learn about how chemistry shapes the local environment through a unit developed for the chemistry curriculum. To comply with the Maryland-adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the schools are required to test all high school students in Earth science, along with biology, chemistry and physics. Since there are virtually no high school Earth science teachers in the district, Earth science is integrated into courses for the other disciplines.

Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) scientists and educators at Cary Institute partnered with City Schools educators and education researchers from George Washington University on the Integrating Chemistry and Earth science (ICE) project to address this need for chemistry.

The ICE curriculum is one of seven new units taught by chemistry teachers. It focuses on local phenomena: weathering and stream chemistry modification, urban form impacts on atmospheric chemistry, and CO2 levels in the local atmosphere and waterbodies. Students learn from firsthand measurements, BES, and other local datasets and instructional activities that meet the NGSS expectations of three-dimensional (3D) learning. 3D learning entails an interweaving of 1) core disciplinary ideas from both Earth science and chemistry, 2) cross-cutting ideas (e.g., systems, matter and energy, stability and change) and 3) science practices (e.g., analyzing and interpreting data, developing and using models, engaging in argument from evidence).

ICE goals included:

  • Development Goal - Develop, test, and refine lessons and assessments that help teachers and students engage in three-dimensional learning in an integrated Earth science and chemistry context.
  • Implementation Goal – Develop, test ,and then provide professional development, in-school support, and resources for district-wide adoption of the ICE curriculum.
  • Research and Documentation Goal – Collect, analyze, and present evidence to address hypotheses about learning and teaching, and document ICE outcomes for students and teachers.

For more information, contact Bess Caplan: or 410-455-1863. 

For more information about the Baltimore Ecosystem Study visit

ICE Project Team

Dr. Alan R. Berkowitz (Principal Investigator), Head of Education, Cary Institute and Education Team Leader, Baltimore Ecosystem Study

Mr. Joshua Gabrielse (Co-Principal Investigator), Science Supervisor, Baltimore City Public Schools

Dr. Jonathan Grooms (Co-Principal Investigator), Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Pedagogy, George Washington University

Ms. Bess Caplan (Project Coordinator), Ecology Education Program Leader, Cary Institute and Baltimore Ecosystem Study

Ms. Tanaira Cullens (Project Assistant), Urban Education Assistant, Cary Institute and Baltimore Ecosystem Study

ICE Development Team Teachers

Danis J Feliz Perez, Benjamin Franklin High School

Jasmin Castillo, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Ma Vilma Ramos, Green Street Academy

Breche’ Wells, National Academy Foundation High School

Christine Sanchez, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Dr. Stacy Dalton, Independence School 1

Vonceil M. Anderson, Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School

ICE Advisory Board


Dr. Sujay Kaushal, University of Maryland, College Park

Dr. Elie Bou-Zeid, Princeton University

Dr. John Hom, US Forest Service
Dr. Jane Wolfson, Towson University


Dr. Hannah Sevian, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Dr. Jo Ellen Roseman, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Dr. Cathy Manduca, Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College

Mr. Martin Schmidt, McDonogh School