Skill Building: Methodology and Analyses

Modeling Oil and Gas Reservoirs

This activity will help you to understand some of the factors that petroleum geologists need to consider when deciding where to recommend drilling for oil. Since people use petroleum products for energy and as source materials for petrochemicals, it is important as citizen scientists to understand the science and technology behind the search for oil and natural gas.

Monitoring Life in the Rocky Intertidal Ecosystem

The five national marine sanctuaries along the West Coast monitor the health of the rocky intertidal ecosystem. One way of doing this is to collect data on the relative abundance of the organisms living in that ecosystem. Since this is such a big task, the national marine sanctuaries are training students in how to follow standardized protocols to help with the monitoring. The information collected is added to an online database that the sanctuaries use to collect baseline data and track long-term changes in the environment. This activity will allow you to learn the sampling techniques used in the field by these citizen scientists who participate in LiMPETS.

Mud Fossils

Learn about fossil preservation, paleontology, and stratigraphy in this detailed activity from the USGS.

Mystery Mollusc

Pretend to be a biologist as you 'discover' a new mollusc species and work to determine it's characteristics and habitat.

Natural Gas Formation

Natural gas, which is mostly methane, is an energy resource used for generating electricity and heating, powering transportation, and manufacturing products. Right now, one-quarter of the world’s energy comes from natural gas. In this investigation, you will make a simple model of how gases can form from decaying material. You will also explore the effects of temperature on gas formation.

Ocean Currents Change Our Earth

Ocean currents — the continuous, directed movement of ocean water — affect regional climates and alter the biological and chemical characteristics of seawater.

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.

Predict the Flow

Ever play with clay? Using a common modeling compound, you can form a “volcano” and examine its topography to predict which way lava will flow down its slopes. You could also investigate mud flows or debris flows.

Products Made from Petroleum

Most people associate petroleum with transportation — but we are surrounded by thousands of other everyday products that come from this vital natural resource. A typical 42- gallon barrel of crude oil yields about 20 gallons of gasoline and 4 gallons of jet fuel. What products come from the other 18 gallons?


Subscribe to Skill Building: Methodology and Analyses