If you're clueless about petrology, paleobiology and plate tectonics, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Earth Science Literacy Initiative (ESLI) have just released a free pamphlet offering a concise primer on what all Americans should know about the earth sciences.

Funded by the NSF and compiled over the last year by ESLI, "The Big Ideas and Supporting Concepts in Earth Science," lays out nine big ideas that form the foundation of the earth sciences. The booklet is an attempt to gather and organize the underlying principles of earth sciences into one succinct document.  

That's a tall order indeed for a 13-page booklet, but I have to say, they pull it off nicely. "Big Ideas" serves as an excellent primer or refresher for learning what you need to know about earth sciences like geology, hydrology, tectonics and geophysics.

They also created curriculum tools to help teachers incorporate the earth sciences into their classrooms.  

Now that's a big idea!

Photo: woodsy