Skill Building: Physical Science Concepts

Making a Cave

We usually think of caves forming as rocks are dissolved and the particles are washed away, leaving hollow spaces behind. This activity simulates the way that dissolution, a chemical weathering process, leads to the formation of caves.

Making Your Own National Park Geologic Tour

In this investigation, you'll have the opportunity to learn about the many geological features in our country's national parks. You might not realize this, but a large number of the national parks were created because of their amazing geology. Just think of the geological features of Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and many more!

Map-Making Basics

Maps are two-dimensional ways of representing information about the natural and built world from a "top-down" perspective. You are probably familiar with road maps that show where roads go and which roads intersect with others and where. You also may have seen weather maps, which show weather patterns across a specific geographic area, or political maps, which show where borders are for countries and areas within those countries.

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.

Measuring Permeabilities of Soil, Sand, and Gravel

This investigation will help you to learn that different geologic materials have different characteristics.

Mineral Electrical Conductivity

People must mine minerals to provide all kinds of materials that we depend on in our lives. The purpose of this activity is to test the conductivity of various minerals with a simple electrical circuit and draw conclusions about which ones would be used in electronics.

Mineral Identification

Learn the characteristics of difference kinds of minerals in this hands on investigative activity.


Subscribe to Skill Building: Physical Science Concepts