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Transcript
Lesson Plan
The Tuskegee Weathermen: African-American Meteorologists
during World War II
The staff of the Tuskegee Weather Station circa 1944. (front row, left to right) Lt. Grant Franklin, Lt.
Archie Williams, Capt. Wallace Reed, Lt. John Branche, Lt. Paul Wise, and Lt. Robert Preer. Photo by Air
Force Weather History Office, Air Force Weather Agency, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska,
http://wxedge.com/articles/20130226the_tuskegee_weathermen.
Prepared by the Center for History of Physics at AIP
1
Grade Level(s): 9-12
Subject(s): History, Meteorology
In-Class Time: See below
Prep Time: See below
Activity One: The History of the Tuskegee Weathermen (In-class Time: 90 min, Prep Time: 15-20 min)
Activity Two: Learning to Read a Weather Map (In-class Time: 60 min, Prep Time: 15-20 min)
Activity Three: Build Your Own Weather Station (In-class Time: 180 min, Prep Time: 20-30 min)
Materials
Activity One: The History of the Tuskegee Weathermen
• Photocopies of reading “The Tuskegee (Weather) Airmen” (see supplemental documents)
• Access to equipment necessary to show an online video clip in the classroom
Activity Two: Learning to Read a Weather Map
• Access to weather.com in the classroom and a projector
• Transparency sheets
• Dry erase markers
• Photocopies of “Weather Map Symbols” guide (see below)
• Printed weather map of the current day’s weather – this can be printed from a website such as
weather.com
(http://www.weather.com/maps/maptype/currentweatherusnational/uscurrentweather_large.
html).
Activity Three: Build Your Own Weather Station
Adapted from Stevens Institute of Technology, Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science,
Weather Scope: An Investigative Study of Weather and Climate.
• Barometer
o wide-mouthed glass jar or small coffee can
o balloon
o rubber band
o scissors
o drinking straw
o manila folder
o glue (recommended) or tape
o ruler and pen or pencil
• Rain Gauge
o Printed paper ruler
o Cylinder shaped clear jar (e.g. an olive jar)
o Rubber band
o Funnel
o Transparent tape
• Thermometer
o Rubbing Alcohol
o Water
Prepared by the Center for History of Physics at AIP
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Cylinder shaped clear jar or bottle (bottles with a narrow neck work best) with a plastic
cap
o 1 straw
o Modeling clay
o Food coloring
o Thermometer(s) (for taking accurate measurements of temperature)
Wind Vane
o Tag board or manila file folder
o Straight pin
o Scissors
o Glue
o Pencil with a new eraser
o Plastic drinking straw
o Modeling clay
o Paper plate
o Compass
Anemometer
o 4 small paper cups
o 4 plastic drinking straws
o tape
o scissors
o straight pin
o pencil with a new eraser
o stapler
o
•
•
Objective
In this lesson plan, students will learn about the history of meteorology and about African American
weather forecasters of the Tuskegee Weather Detachment that served in the Air Corps during World
War II. They will learn about the work of these meteorologists and how they supported the Tuskegee
Airmen. In additional activities, students can build their own weather station and learn to read weather
maps.
Introduction
With the rapid rise of aviation during World War I, interest in aviation and aeronautics increased in the
1920s and 1930s and created a demand for military meteorology. African Americans, however, were
greatly underrepresented in the field of aviation and aeronautics because of socioeconomic
discrimination and Jim Crow laws which restricted or denied African Americans from entering the
military and commercial aviation. While African Americans could and did serve in the Civil War, wars
against Native Americans, the Spanish-American War, and World War I, the Army War College
maintained in 1924 that “in the process of evolution, the American Negro has not progressed as far as
other subspecies of the human family … His mental inferiority and inherent weakness of character are
factors that must be considered … [in] any plans for his employment in war.” 1 Over a decade later, a
1
Steve Estes, I Am a Man!: Race, Manhood, and the Civil Rights Movement, 17.
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crucial change in the segregation and attitude toward African Americans in the military took place in
1938. Mary McLeod Bethune was an African American activist and the only female member of F.D.R.’s
“black cabinet” – an informal group of African American public policy advisors to the president. Bethune
advocated and fought for the integration of the pilot program. She used her influence and her position
to establish pilot training programs at several HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities)
including Tuskegee Institute, Hampton Institute, Virginia State, North Carolina A&T, Delaware State,
West Virginia State and Howard University. The Tuskegee Airmen, or “red tails” as they were called
because of the red tails of the airplanes they flew, were the first African American military aviators in
the United States army who fought in World War II. The Tuskegee Airmen earned many purple hearts,
Silver Stars, and Distinguished Flying Crosses and President Truman gave the Tuskegee Airmen a
Distinguished Unit Citation for their “outstanding performance and extraordinary heroism.” Because of
the service of African Americans such as the Tuskegee Airmen, the protests and advocacy by those such
as Bethune, and the changing political structure of the United States in the fight against fascism, the
struggle against racism in the military scored a significant victory in 1948 when President Truman issued
Executive Order 9981 desegregating the armed forces.
While many have heard of the Tuskegee Airmen, the weather forecasters and meteorologists who
supported the decorated pilots are lesser known. Just as the “Red Tails” were pioneers in the field of
aviation, the Tuskegee “Weathermen” were pioneers in the field of meteorology. The Tuskegee
Weather Detachment was formed on March 21, 1942 as part of the Tuskegee Army Flying School in
Tuskegee, Alabama. They were the first group of black meteorologists who were enlisted to support the
Tuskegee Airmen and other segregated units. Around fifteen men, recruited from cadet programs, were
pioneers in opening the field of meteorology to African Americans. They had to pass rigorous tests and
complete academically challenging coursework in order to qualify for the detachment.
Until World War I, the field of meteorology was more of an art than a science. Meteorologists were
primarily concerned with collecting data rather than applying mathematical and physical principles to
that data. The war provided the impetus for the professionalization and expansion of meteorology as a
field and its transition from an art to a science. The American Meteorological Society, which formed in
1919, spearheaded the reformation of meteorological instruction across the country. In addition,
numerical weather prediction, which applied the laws of physics and mathematics to the weather, was
beginning to gain the interest of meteorologists. The Tuskegee Weathermen entered the field of
meteorology as these groundbreaking transformations were taking place within the discipline.
Instructions/Activities
Activity One: The History of the Tuskegee Weathermen
1. Begin by reviewing the period leading up to U.S. involvement in World War II and the civil rights
struggles taking place in the country including A. Philip Randolph’s historic planning of a “March
on Washington” which pushed President Roosevelt to sign Executive Order 8802. Students
should also be introduced to who the Tuskegee Airmen were. For resources on the Tuskegee
Airmen, see the “Further Reading and Additional Resources” section of this lesson plan.
2. Have the class watch the Weather Channel video clip “Black History Month 2014: Remembering
the Tuskegee Weathermen.”
3. Have a discussion in class about the significance of the Tuskegee Weathermen based on the
discussion questions below.
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Activity Two: Learning to Read a Weather Map
In order to determine when the best conditions for pilots going to battle would be, weather forecasters
had to accurately predict weather conditions in the war theaters. A crucial part of the job was being
able to read and create weather maps. Today, weather maps are generated using computers, but in the
days of early meteorology, these maps were drawn by hand. In this activity, you’ll learn about weather
map symbols and terminology and how to read a weather map.
Materials:
• Access to weather.com in the classroom and if possible, a projector
• Transparency sheets
• Dry erase markers
• Photocopies of “Weather Map Symbols” guide (see below)
• Printed weather map of the current day’s weather – this can be printed from a website such as
weather.com
(http://www.weather.com/maps/maptype/currentweatherusnational/uscurrentweather_large.
html).
Instructions:
1. All students should receive a copy of the “Weather Map Symbols” guide and a printout of the
weather map for the current day.
2. Review the different symbols with the class, explaining concepts such as cold fronts and warm
fronts
3. Then, guide the students through reading the current day’s weather map.
4. Optionally, students can get clipboards with a printout of a map with a transparency sheet on
top and make drawings of weather maps with dry erase markers. Students can also pretend to
be meteorologists on TV and read the weather map for the class.
Prepared by the Center for History of Physics at AIP
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Weather Map Symbols
Image from http://weather.about.com/od/forecastingtechniques/ss/mapsymbols_2.htm
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Activity Three: Build Your Own Weather Station
Adapted and reprinted with permission of Stevens Institute of Technology, Center for Innovation in
Engineering and Science Education; © 2014 the Trustees of the Stevens Institute of Technology,
Hoboken, NJ 07030. Weather Scope: An Investigative Study of Weather and Climate. Their website
provides more in-depth lessons which include illustrations and additional lesson plans and activities.
Meteorologists rely on LOTS of data from the past in order to accurately predict future weather. In
order to measure weather conditions, they need to build instruments that can measure different
aspects of the weather such as temperature, wind, air pressure, and other factors. In this activity,
students will build their own weather station to record data about the weather. Once you’ve built all
five of the instruments for your weather station, the students can then take measurements for a period
of time (a week or a month) and learn about the work of meteorologists. Weather stations can be built
for each individual student, in groups of 3 or more, or by the whole class. It is a good idea for all
students to be able to watch and participate in each instrument so they understand the concepts behind
them.
As part of the weather station, students will build the following meteorological instruments:
• Barometer
• Rain Gauge
• Thermometer
• Wind Vane
• Anemometer
Part One: Make Your Own Barometer to Measure Air Pressure
Adapted and reprinted with permission of Stevens Institute of Technology, Center for Innovation in
Engineering and Science Education; © 2014 the Trustees of the Stevens Institute of Technology,
Hoboken, NJ 07030. Weather Scope, Make and Use a Barometer to Measure Air Pressure.
Additional illustrations and instructions can be found at Wikihow How to Make a Simple Weather
Barometer .
Air pressure is the weight of tiny particles of air in a specific area. Even though air may seem invisible
and we walk through it all day, every day, air actually takes up space and had weight. For example, if
you put your hand on your chest and breathe in, you’ll notice your chest expand. This is because air fills
your lungs, making them bigger! When a certain number of air particles have more space to expand
into, the air pressure lowers. When the same number of air particles are compressed to fit into a
smaller space the air pressure increases. A barometer is an instrument used to measure air pressure.
The common units of measurements of air pressure are millibars or inches of mercury.
Materials:
• wide-mouthed glass jar or small coffee can
• balloon
• rubber band
• scissors
• drinking straw
Prepared by the Center for History of Physics at AIP
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•
•
•
manila folder
glue (recommended) or tape
ruler and pen or pencil
Instructions (For pictures visit the link provided above)
1. Cut the narrow top of the balloon off.
2. Cover the top of the jar with the balloon so that it is airtight and use the rubber band to hold it
in place. IMPORTANT: the seal should be airtight (If you are using plastic wrap, it should make
an airtight seal around the rim of the jar).
3. Place a small amount of glue in the middle of the balloon and carefully place the side of one end
of the straw on the glue so that the other side extends over the edge of the jar. The tip of the
straw sticking out will be your gauge.
4. While the glue is drying, take the manila folder and stand it up on its edge. Place your
barometer in the center of the folder and mark a line where the straw points out. This will be
your “0” mark. Then make five marks above and below the “0” mark at .5 cm intervals and label
them 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 above and -1, -2, -3, -4, -5 below.
5. Check your barometer at the beginning, middle, and end of the day for 5 days. Mark where the
straw is each time you take a measurement. Take notes in a log (see below) with what the
weather conditions are like when you take your measurement (i.e. rainy, sunny, hot, cold,
windy, humid, etc.).
Part Two: Make Your Own Rain Gauge to Measure Precipitation
Adapted and reprinted with permission of Stevens Institute of Technology, Center for Innovation in
Engineering and Science Education; © 2014 the Trustees of the Stevens Institute of Technology,
Hoboken, NJ 07030. Weather Scope, Make and Use a Rain Gauge to Measure Precipitation.
Materials
• Printed paper ruler (One can be at
http://www.vendian.org/mncharity/dir3/paper_rulers/UnstableURL/ruler_foot.pdf)
• Cylinder shaped clear jar (e.g. an olive jar)
• Rubber band
• Funnel
• Transparent tape
Instructions
1. Remove the label of the jar
2. Cut out the paper ruler and tape vertically along the side of the jar
3. Place the funnel in the top of the jar
4. Place your rain gauge outside and take measurements three times a day for five days. Make
sure to place the rain gauge somewhere where it is not blocked by a tree, roof, or other
obstructions. Remember to empty the rain gauge every time you take a measurement. But
remember that when you take the next measurement, you are measuring how much rain
between the current measurement and the last one.
Prepared by the Center for History of Physics at AIP
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Part Three: Build Your Own Thermometer
Adapted and reprinted with permission of Stevens Institute of Technology, Center for Innovation in
Engineering and Science Education; © 2014 the Trustees of the Stevens Institute of Technology,
Hoboken, NJ 07030. Weather Scope: Use a Thermometer to Measure Temperature.
Note: The thermometer created will not be able to take accurate measurements but will demonstrate
how a thermometer works. A large mercury thermometer can be acquired for the classroom to take
temperature measurements.
Materials:
• Rubbing Alcohol
• Water
• Cylinder shaped clear jar or bottle (bottles with a narrow neck work best) with a plastic cap
• 1 straw
• Modeling clay
• Food coloring
• Thermometer(s) (for taking accurate measurements of temperature)
Instructions (for pictures see the link above):
1. Remove the label from the jar using rubbing alcohol
2. Pour equal amounts of rubbing alcohol and cold water into the jar, filling about ¼ of the
container
3. Add 2-3 drops of food coloring
4. Place modeling clay around the thread of the jar and close the cap over it (this will seal it)
5. Make a small hole in the center of the cap just big enough for the straw to fit through
6. Place the straw in the hole and submerge the bottom of the straw in the liquid but not so far
that the bottom of the straw touches the bottom of the jar
7. Place modeling clay around where the straw enters the cap to keep the straw upright and seal it
8. To test the thermometer, place it in a pan of hot water – what happens? Now place the
thermometer in a pan of cold water – what happens?
9. Why does the liquid move up and down when the temperature changes?
Taking Temperature Measurements:
Go outside and take temperature measurements. Make sure to wait two minutes after taking the
thermometer outside. Place the thermometer at eye level – do not rest on the ground or any other
surface. Make sure to avoid getting the thermometer wet. Take the reading out of direct sunlight if
possible. Record your measurements in degrees Celsius. Students can also be introduced to various
units of measurement for recording temperature – Fahrenheit, Celcius, and Kelvin – and how to convert
between them.
Prepared by the Center for History of Physics at AIP
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Part Four: Build a Weather Vane to Measure Wind Direction
Adapted and reprinted with permission of Stevens Institute of Technology, Center for Innovation in
Engineering and Science Education; © 2014 the Trustees of the Stevens Institute of Technology,
Hoboken, NJ 07030. Weather Scope: How to Make and Use a Weather Vane to Measure Wind Direction.
Many students may have seen weather vanes before in the shape of a rooster or other shapes. Weather
vanes are instruments that allow us to measure the direction that the wind is blowing.
Materials
• Tag board or manila file folder
• Straight pin
• Scissors
• Glue
• Pencil with a new eraser
• Plastic drinking straw
• Modeling clay
• Paper plate
• Compass
Procedure
1. Cut out an arrow head/point 5cm long from the manila file folder.
2. Cut out an arrow tail 7cm long.
3. Make 1cm cuts at the ends of each straw.
4. Slide the arrow point and the arrow tail into the cuts in the straw.
5. Push a straight pin through the middle of the straw and into the eraser end of the pencil.
6. Stick the sharp end of the pencil into a lump of modeling clay; this will be your base.
7. Mark north, south, east, and west on the paper plate
8. Put the clay on a paper plate.
9. Test your wind vane by blowing on the vane and make sure that the arrow can spin freely.
To measure the wind direction:
1. Place the paper plate on a flat surface and put the wind vane on the plate.
2. Use the compass to determine where north is so that students can set up their plates facing the
right direction. If you have access to a blacktop area, mark the compass points in chalk to make
it easier for the students to read the wind direction.
3. Students will observe the vane. If it is very breezy, one student should hold down the paper
plate while another takes the direction reading. The arrow will point to the direction the wind is
blowing from.
4. Check the direction on the paper plate.
Prepared by the Center for History of Physics at AIP
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Part Five: Build Your Own Cup Anemometer to Measure Wind Speed
Adapted and reprinted with permission of Stevens Institute of Technology, Center for Innovation in
Engineering and Science Education; © 2014 the Trustees of the Stevens Institute of Technology,
Hoboken, NJ 07030. Weather Scope: Make and Use Your Own Anemometer to Measure Wind Speed.
For an alternate cup anemometer activity and for illustrations of the final anemometer, see Wikihow
Make an Anemometer.
Anemometers are instruments used to measure the speed of wind. Wind speed is usually measured
using the Beaufort Wind Scale, a scale from 0-12 based on visual cues. Below is a simplified version of
the scale that students can use to make wind measurements:
Wind Speed (KmPH)
Term
Description
0-5
Calm
Smoke goes straight up
6-20
Light
Wind is felt on face; weather vanes turn, leaves rustle
21-39
Moderate
Raises dust; flags flap
40-61
Strong
Large branches move; umbrellas turn inside out
62 or more
Gale / Whole Gale
Materials:
1. 4 small paper cups
2. 4 plastic drinking straws
3. tape
4. scissors
5. straight pin
6. pencil with a new eraser
7. stapler
Procedure
1. This anemometer has four cups which catch the wind and cause the anemometer to spin. The
inward curve of the cups receives most of the force of the wind. That's what makes the cups
move. The more spins per minute, the greater the wind velocity.
2. Arrange four plastic drinking straws to form a cross and tape them together at the center.
3. Staple the top side of one drinking cup, such as the small paper cups designed for bathroom
dispensers, to the end of each straw, so the open ends of the cups all face the same direction.
4. Push a straight pin through the center of the straws into an eraser on the end of a pencil. This
provides the axle.
5. Mark one of the cups; this will be the one they use for counting when the anemometer spins.
NOTE: When using this anemometer, 10 turns per minute means the wind speed is about one
mile per hour. If possible, it would very useful to use a commercial anemometer to determine
an approximate determination. For example, "when our anemometer read 20 spins a minute,
the commercial anemometer read 2 miles per hour."
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6. Blow on the anemometer or turn an electric fan on low to make sure that it spins easily. How
many times the anemometer will spin in one minute? Can you make a statement connecting the
number of spins of your anemometer and the speed of the wind? (you can use the table below
to record your practice trials).
Time Interval Number of Spins
1.
2.
3.
4.
Measuring Wind Speed:
1. Divide the into small groups with the following roles (optional)
2. One time keeper who will be responsible for timing one minute for each trial.
3. One official "counter" for the day. The others may count on their own, but the counter's
readings will be the ones recorded.
4. One holder who will hold the anemometer while the spins are counted; the holder should make
sure that he holds the anemometer so that the wind is unobstructed.
5. Mount or hold the anemometer in a place that has full access to the wind from all directions.
6. When the time keeper says "Go", the counter in each group will count how many times the
marked cup passes them in one minute and write it down.
7. If possible, repeat the above step four (4) times and record the average number of spins
Optional: you can multiply the average number of spins by 60 to find out how many times the
anemometer would spin in an hour and come up with a statement such as: the speed of the
wind today is about 1,000 spins per hour.
Prepared by the Center for History of Physics at AIP
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Part Six: Collecting Data like a Meteorologist
Once the students have completed building their weather stations, they can start tracking the weather
like a meteorologist. Weather logs can be kept by each individual student, by groups of 3 or more, or on
a big chart in the classroom. Each section has instructions on how to take measurements with each of
the instruments. Have students track the weather at least two times per day (there will be different
temperatures depending on the time) over a period of a week or more. Students can then make charts
which show how the different variables change over time. They can also compare their measurements
to those on weather websites such as wunderground.com.
Date
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Time
Temperature
(Celsius)
Air
Pressure
Precipitation
Wind
Direction
Wind
Speed
Weather Notes
(cloudy, sunny,
etc.)
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Required/Recommended Reading and Resources
The History of the Tuskegee Weathermen
• Gerald A. White Jr., "Tuskegee (Weather) Airmen: Black Meteorologists in World War II," Air
Power History 53, no. 2 (Summer 2006): 20-31.
• “Tuskegee Weathermen Integral to Success,” Air Force Weather Historian vol. 2, issue 4
(Autumn 2006),
http://www.airweaassn.org/afw_historian/AFW%20Historian%20Newsletter%202-4.pdf.
• Video clip “Black History Month 2014: Remembering the Tuskegee Weathermen,” The Weather
Channel.
Discussion Questions
1. What were the duties of the Tuskegee Weather Detachment? How did they work together with
the Tuskegee Airmen?
2. What does a meteorologist do? How did the field of meteorology change after World War II?
3. Why is the Tuskegee Weather Detachment significant?
4. How did meteorology as a field change over the course of the 20th century?
Further Reading and Additional Resources
Resources on the Tuskegee Airmen:
• A documentary video on the Tuskegee Airmen narrated by Morgan Freeman:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Su0JjIYTZY.
• “The Tuskegee Airmen,” Life upon These Shores, 304-305.
• Films for the Humanities & Sciences (Firm), Films Media Group, and Public Broadcasting Service
(U.S.). The Tuskegee Airmen They Fought Two Wars. New York, N.Y.: Films Media Group, 2002.
<http://digital.films.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?aid=18783&xtid=44166>.
• Hemingway, Anthony, et al. Red Tails. Beverly Hills, CA: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment,
2012.
Resources on the History of Meteorology:
• Harper, Kristine. Weather by the Numbers: The Genesis of Modern Meteorology. Cambridge,
Mass: MIT Press, 2008.
Other Resources:
• The American Meteorological Society promotes the teaching of atmospheric, oceanographic,
and hydrologic sciences through pre-college teacher training and instructional resource material
development. Their website includes a number of their instructional initiatives.
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Extensions
•
For an alternative “Build Your Own Weather Station” lesson plan, see the following lesson plan
developed by Discovery Education:
http://school.discoveryeducation.com/lessonplans/activities/weatherstation/.
Common Core Standards
For more information on Common Core Standards, visit http://www.corestandards.org/.
History/Social Studies
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.7
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.9
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in
diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video,
multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts,
experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a
process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information
when possible.
Next Generation Science Standards
For more information on the Next Generation Science Standards, visit http://www.nextgenscience.org/.
Dimension One: Practices
Dimension Two: Crosscutting
Concepts
Dimension Three: Disciplinary
Core Ideas
1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for
engineering)
2. Developing and using models
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions
(for engineering)
7. Engaging in argument from evidence
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
1. Patterns.
2. Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation.
3. Systems and system models.
4. Stability and change.
Core Idea LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Core Idea ESS2: Earth’s Systems
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