Human Dimension: Technology

Geography of a Pencil

How is the world connected to the pencil you hold in your hand? Complete this activity to find out.

Looking for Wild Elements

In this activity, students will explore local places with wild elements, such as wildlife refuges. Students also will create maps showing spatial relationships between wild places and school, and they will find creative ways to record experiences.

Mapping Quake Risk

Today, people are “mapping our world” with the aid of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. Mapping can be done in the field or the lab—even from smartphones. You can make maps with real-time data about wildfires, tsunamis, and tornadoes. You can make maps with imagery collected with visible light, infrared, and radar data.

Mapping the Atmosphere

A map can represent data from an area on a flat surface. The part of our Earth system most frequently mapped is the atmosphere. Weather—the state of the atmosphere at a particular place and time—needs constant monitoring because it perpetually changes as weather systems evolve and move.

Awareness of what the weather is and is likely to be has numerous benefits. Weather can be hazardous, causing injuries, death, and loss of property. Weather maps are valuable analytical tools for informing people about current or future conditions.

Mapping Vertical Movements

This activity uses “flubber” to demonstrate the visco-elastic properties of the Earth’s lithosphere and shows isostatic rebound in action.

Mapping Your Soil

The key properties of soil (physical, biological, and chemical) determine recreation, crop production, range, water/erosion conservation, forestry, and engineering uses of the soil. Soil surveys help us understand how soils differ and how they behave under various land management systems. The heart of a soil survey is the soil map showing the spatial distribution and variability of soils on the landscape.

Parks Past, Present, and Future

Over Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history, tectonic upheavals and colliding plates formed mountain ranges and carved out basins. Forces of erosion and weathering have been at work to break down these landforms. Records of these processes are imprinted on the land and define distinctive landscapes around the United States and in its national parks.

Places on the Planet: Latitude and Longitude

Citizen scientists involved in the Geological Society of America's EarthCaching project ( use GPS technology and latitude and longitude coordinates to find special places on the Earth. This activity will help you learn how to find locations using latitude and longitude.

Ring of Fire

In this activity, you’ll identify plate boundaries as well as continents, countries, and bodies of water to become familiar with an area known as the “Ring of Fire.”

Rock Around the World

Scientists need your help. Those studying Mars are asking students from around the world to help them understand "the red planet." Send in a rock collected by you or your classroom from your region of the world, and NASA scientists will use a special tool like the one on the Mars Rover to tell you what it's made of. Then everyone can compare their rocks to the ones found on Mars.


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