GSFC Earth System Science Education Project

National Geography Standards

The National Geography Standards were established to form a framework that provides guidelines on what students should know about geography. The 18 standards listed below have been categorized into six essential elements.

The World in Spatial Terms

The geographically informed person knows and understands:
· Standard 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and
report information from a spatial perspective.
· Standard 2: How to use mental maps to organize information about people places, and environments in a spatial context.
· Standard 3: How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface.

1. Learn how to make maps, globes, graphs, etc.
2. Describe characteristics, functions, and applications of maps, globes, and other images.
3. Identify advantages and disadvantages of maps and other images.
4. Identify locations of places, as well as physical and human features.
5. Use mental maps to answer geographic questions.
6. Analyze the spatial organization of people and places on Earth.

Places and Regions

The geographically informed person knows and understands:
· Standard 4: The physical and human characteristics of places.
· Standard 5: That people create regions to interpret Earth's complexity.
· Standard 6: How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.

1. Describe physical characteristics of a place.
2. Describe human characteristics of a place.
3. Compare characteristics of communities or regions.
4. Describe the effects of human processes in shaping landscapes.
5. Understand the concept of regions.
6. Explain how places and regions serve as cultural symbols.

Physical Systems

The geographically informed person knows and understands:
· Standard 7: The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface.
· Standard 8: The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth's surface.

1. Know how physical processes shape the physical environment.
2. Understand Earth-Sun relationships.
3. Predict consequences of physical processes on the Earth.
4. Describe the components of Ecosystems.
5. Describe how Ecosystems work.

Human Systems

The geographically informed person knows and understands:
· Standard 9: The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface.
· Standard 10: The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.
· Standard 11: The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface.
· Standard 12: The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement.
· Standard 13: How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth's

1. Analyze population patterns
2. Describe patterns of migration and explain effects it may have on places.
3. Define economic activities
4. Understand geographic causes for world trade
5. Identify conflict within and between countries

Environment and Society

The geographically informed person knows and understands:
· Standard 14: How human actions modify the physical environment.
· Standard 15: How physical systems affect human systems.
· Standard 16: The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.

1. Explain characteristics of physical environments
2. Describe the effects of natural hazards on human systems
3. Describe resource distribution and utilization
4. Evaluate different viewpoints regarding resource use.

The Uses of Geography

The geographically informed person knows and understands:
· Standard 17: How to apply geography to interpret the past.
· Standard 18: How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future.

1. Describe how geographic contexts have influence events in the past
2. Describe what the future organization of the Earth might be.
3. Describe how spatial organization changes over time
4. Analyze geographic issues