Big idea: Earth chemistry

Substances can move within and between Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere and biosphere as part of large-scale Earth systems.

"Earth chemistry" is one of 15 big ideas of science in the Best Evidence Science Teaching collection. Understanding of the big idea is built up by a series of key concepts at age 11-16, which have been organised into teaching topics.

The research-informed resources for each key concept make up a progression toolkit that provides:

  • appropriately-sequenced steps for learning progression
  • diagnostic questions to reveal preconceptions and common misunderstandings
  • response activities to challenge misunderstandings and encourage conceptual development

Download the teacher guidance notes for this big idea



Resources for age 11-14

Topic 1: Air pollution

Topic 2: Water cycle

Topic 3: Acids and alkalis

Please also have a look at the substances and properties big idea page and the chemical reactions big idea page for more key concepts in this topic.

Topic 4: Weathering and erosion

Please also have a look at the dynamic Earth big idea page for more key concepts in this topic.


Resources for age 14-16

We are currently looking for sponsors who would be interested in supporting the development of BEST resources for Earth science at age 14-16.
If you would like to find out more, please contact us using the contact details on our BEST Usage Guidelines and FAQs document.


Is there a recommended teaching order?

The Best Evidence Science Teaching resources can be incorporated into your existing scheme of work, if desired. 

However, we have used research evidence on learning pathways and on effective sequencing of ideas to develop maps that suggest how key concepts can be sequenced to build understanding of big ideas of science. These maps can help with curriculum planning.

View the key concept map for Earth science