Earth and Space Science (SES 4U)

Course Overview

Course Title: Earth and Space Science, Grade 12
Course Code: SES 4U
Grade: 12
Course Type: University
Credit Value: 1.0
Prerequisite: Science, Grade 10, Academic
Department: Science
Tuition Fee (CAD): $639

This course develops students’ understanding of Earth and its place in the universe. Students will investigate the properties of and forces in the universe and solar system and analyse techniques scientists use to generate knowledge about them. Students will closely examine the materials of Earth, its internal and surficial processes, and its geological history, and will learn how Earth’s systems interact and how they have changed over time. Throughout the course, students will learn how these forces, processes, and materials affect their daily lives. The course draws on biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics in its consideration of geological and astronomical processes that can be observed directly or inferred from other evidence.

Overall Curriculum Expectations

By the end of the course, students will gain proficiency in the following areas:

Scientific Investigation Skills and Career Exploration
  • demonstrate scientific investigation skills (related to both inquiry and research) in the four areas of skills (initiating and planning, performing and recording, analysing and interpreting, and communicating);
  • identify and describe careers and Canadian contributions related to the fields of science under study.

Astronomy (Science of the Universe)
  • analyse the development of technologies that have contributed to our understanding of the universe, and evaluate the impact of milestones in astronomical theory or knowledge on the scientific community;
  • investigate and analyse the properties of the universe, particularly the evolution and properties of stars, in both qualitative and quantitative terms;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the origin and evolution of the universe, the principal characteristics of its components, and techniques used to study those components.

Planetary Science (Science of the Solar System)
  • analyse political, economic, and environmental issues related to the exploration and study of the solar system, and how technology used in space exploration can be used in other areas of endeavour;
  • investigate features of and interactions between bodies in the solar system, and the impact of these features and interactions on the existence of life;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the internal (geological) processes and external (cosmic) influences operating on bodies in the solar system.

Recording Earth’s Geological History
  • analyse, with reference to geological records, the relationship between climate, geology, and life on Earth, and evaluate contributions to our understanding of changes in Earth systems over geological time;
  • investigate geological evidence of major changes that have occurred during Earth’s history, and of the various processes that have contributed to these changes;
  • demonstrate an understanding of how changes to Earth’s surface have been recorded and preserved throughout geological time and how they contribute to our knowledge of Earth’s history.

Earth’s Materials
  • analyse technologies used to explore for and extract Earth materials, and assess the economic and environmental impact of the exploitation of such materials;
  • investigate the properties of minerals and characteristics of rocks, including those in their local area;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the properties of minerals and the formation and characteristics of rocks.
Geological Processes
  • analyse technological developments that have increased our knowledge of geological processes and structures, and how this knowledge assists in monitoring and managing these processes and structures;
  • investigate, through the use of models and analysis of information gathered from various sources, the nature of internal and surficial Earth processes, and the ways in which these processes can be quantified;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the processes at work within Earth and on its surface, and the role of these processes in shaping Earth’s surface.

Unit Overview

Unit 1: Science of the Universe 15 hours
Unit 2: Exploring the Solar System20 hours
Unit 3: Earth History20 hours
Unit 4: Geological Processes20 hours
Unit 5: Earth Materials
20 hours
Unit 6: Culminating Project15 hours
Total Hours110 hours
Teaching and Learning Strategies

Enthusiastic teachers and instructors bring unique teaching and assessment methods to the classroom because students learn best when they are engaged in a range of different learning techniques. The activities allow students to apply learned concepts to current world social, economic, and environmental issues which impact daily life. Opportunities to relate knowledge and skills to these wider contexts will motivate students to learn in a meaningful way and to become life-long learners. Instructors also inspire students to become successful problem solvers by investigating, providing alternative reasoning and solutions to problems as well as dedicating time and energy to the tasks at hand.

Effective instructional techniques utilize students’ existing knowledge and by capturing their interest and engaging in meaningful participation. Students will be engaged when they are able to see the correlation between the learned concepts and their ability to apply them to the world around them and in real-life situations. Students will have the chance to learn using a wide range of methods which include self-learning, cooperative learning as well as learning through teacher guidance as well has hands-on experiences. The methods and strategies teachers implement will be tailored to the learning requirements and the individual needs of the students. Teachers will achieve effective instruction in an online environment by using videos, interactive animations and virtual labs and discussion forums and video conferencing/live chat.

Individualized Accommodations for Students

Our methodology for student assessment follows the Growing Success Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario Schools First Edition, Covering Grades 1 to 12 (2010) manual published by the Ontario Ministry of Education. Assessment is the process of gathering information that accurately reflects how well a student is achieving the curriculum expectations in a subject or course. Assessment tools are designed to improve student learning which includes descriptive feedback, coaching, observations and self-assessments. In addition, student can be independent and set individual goals, monitor progress against these goals, determine next steps and reflect on their thinking and learning.

For a student with special education needs who requires modified or alternative expectations, assessment and evaluation of his or her achievement will be based on the modified curriculum expectations or alternative expectations outlined in the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). Accommodations required to facilitate the student’s learning may be identified by the teacher, however recommendations from a School Board generated in the form of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) should be used, if available. 


For a student with special education needs who requires “accommodations only”, as described in his or her IEP, assessment and evaluation of achievement will be based on the appropriate subject/ grade/course curriculum expectations and the achievement levels outlined in the curriculum documents.

A student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) describes his or her educational program and any accommodations that may be required. The IEP specifies whether the student requires:
accommodations only; or
modified learning expectations, with the possibility of accommodations;

Assessment accommodations are changes in procedures that enable the student to demonstrate his
or her learning. These may include:
visual supports to clarify verbal instructions, assistive devices, or some form of human support;
alternative methods for the student to demonstrate his or her achievement of expectations (e.g., allowing the student to take tests orally) or the allowance of extra time to complete the assessment;
alternative settings that may be more suitable for the student to demonstrate his or her learning.

If accommodations are required to assess and evaluate student learning, the strategies to be used are outlined in the student’s IEP.
For further details about the different types of accommodations, modified learning expectation and alternative programs please refer to Growing Success Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario Schools First Edition, Covering Grades 1 to 12 (2010)

Materials Required

Standard Computer Requirements for all courses:
-Processor speed of 2 GHz or faster
-Memory of 4 GB RAM or greater
-A high speed internet connection with a connection speed of 10 MB/s or better.
-Monitor and video card with 1024×768 or greater resolution
-Keyboard and Mouse is recommended
-Speakers/Headphones