Geosphere: Earth's Natural Resources

A Paste with a Taste

To allow students to produce a "marketable" product made from minerals that are used by most people every day. Both the abrasive and cleansing compounds found in toothpaste, calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate, are minerals.

Aggregates Matter

Crushed stone, sand, and gravel are the three kinds of rock fragments that are called aggregates. Consider: At the current rate of usage, every American will need 1.37 million pounds of aggregates in his or her lifetime. Aggregates are mined in every state in the nation. Aggregates are the most commonly used mined rocks in all countries of the world.

Birdseed Mining

In this activity you will use seeds to model mining valuable materials from rocks.

Carbon Travels

We find carbon everywhere on Earth ─ in trees, rocks, fossil fuels, oceans, and even you! Carbon doesn’t stay in one place, through. Scientists study how carbon moves from one place to another. This is the carbon cycle.

Chemistry of Burning

Why is CO2 increasing in the atmosphere? Who is doing it? Many people think that CO2 is “pollution,” so that clean burning should be a way to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. In this demonstration, we review basic chemistry (see illustration) to realize that producing CO2 is an inevitable product of burning any fossil fuel.

Connect the Spheres

This activity will provide you with an introduction to a series of lessons — Survivor Earth — about water resources on Earth. You’ll investigate Earth systems by making observations in nature and identifying systems in the natural world. Ultimately, you will understand how the four spheres, or systems, on Earth — biosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and atmosphere — are interconnected.

Core Sampling

Drilling is the only way to be sure that oil and gas fields exist and exactly what is present in the formation. Core samples reveal the physical and chemical nature of the rock. In this activity, you will create a model formation and “drill” for samples.

Cupcake Core Sampling

Trying to "see" what is beneath the surface of the Earth is one of the jobs of a geologist. Rather than digging up vast tracts of land to expose an oil field or to find some coal-bearing strata, core samples can be taken and analyzed to determine the likely composition of the Earth's interior. In this activity, students model core sampling techniques to find out what sort of layers are in a cupcake.

Density of Minerals

Density is an intrinsic physical property of minerals that relates to the composition of the mineral and to the pattern in which the mineral’s atoms are arranged. “Intrinsic” means that the property is the same for the mineral, no matter what the size or shape of the sample. In this activity, students will measure and compare the densities of minerals.

Drill Site Dilemma

This activity gives your students a glimpse at the difficulty of seafloor surveying, as well as the challenges the JOIDES Resolution faces during each expedition. Your students also will learn about latitude and longitude and plotting coordinates.


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