Montana State University

ERTH 591-802: K-14 Earth System Science (Fall)

The Office of Continuing Education at Extended University offers both face-to-face and online learning opportunities:

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Oct 10-Dec 04, 2016
Credit: 2 graduate
Instructor(s): Gerald "Jerry" Nelson

Course Description

Participants will learn to find the Internet's abundant digital Earth Systems Science (ESS) resources and use these resources to create integrated mathematics and science lessons. Participants will learn to adapt online resources to their own instructional environments at the K-14 levels.

ESS emphasizes the dynamic interrelationships among changes in the atmosphere, ocean circulation patterns, and environmental processes on and beneath the earth's surface. K-14 Earth System Science instruction is designed for K-14 teachers already familiar with using basic computer and Internet tools. Participants will integrate concepts from ESS with Internet resources, such as digital weather images, near-real-time earthquake data, and archived climate data. Necessary ESS scientific background is provided and effective pedagogical strategies are discussed for using computer technology with students at all levels K-14. Although the course science content is based in ESS, emphasis will be on the integration of mathematics, earth systems science, and Internet technology, using discovery and constructivist methods.

Meeting Place and Times

Teachers login to the course at a time of day that best fits their schedule. It is necessary to connect at least 4 - 6 times per week and spend 6 - 8 hours per week while the course is in session, either online or offline working on course related assignments, to stay current and successfully complete this 2 credit graduate course.


Gerald "Jerry" Nelson, PhD. (Email: is a geology/geography professor at Casper College in Wyoming. Jerry was the Upper Grades team leader for the Network Montana Earth Systems Science Curriculum Project, helped write Wyoming's Earth Science standards, and was formerly Director and Curator of the Tate Geological Museum, which features many Wyoming dinosaurs.


The course is designed primarily for Certified Teachers at the K-14 levels with an interest in integrating mathematics and science education with computer technology and Internet resources. Registrants must be Certified Teachers or permission of the instructor is required.

Time Commitment:

6-8 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

If you are accepted into a qualified online program, see the appropriate MSU Online Only Tuition and Fee table below:

If you are also taking a face-to-face course, please refer to the MSU Fee Schedules.

Optional Books/Materials:

  • A used geology or physical geography textbook.

The instructor will provide reading materials online. There is no required text, but participants are encouraged to obtain a used geology or physical geography textbook to use as a reference - particularly if they have never taken an earth science class.

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

For questions regarding registration, contact Kelly Boyce by phone at (800)282-6062 or (406)994-6812, or by email at

For questions regarding course content, contact Dr. Jerry Nelson at

How to Register

You must be accepted as a student to Montana State University to take this course.

Learn how to apply.

After your application has been accepted, you will register via MSU's online registration system, MyInfo.

Registration requires a PIN number. Learn how to find your PIN.

Once you have your PIN, learn how to register through MyInfo.

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