Soil, Plants, and the Energy Cycle

Soils are critical for many aspects of our daily life. They provide food such as grains, vegetables, and animal feed. They provide fiber for clothing, as in cotton, flax-linen, and hemp. And they provide shelter materials like wood and brick. But did you realize that soils also are an important part of the energy cycle?

Solar Cell Energy Nationwide

MY NASA DATA microsets are created using data from NASA Earth science satellite missions. A microset is a small amount of data extracted from a much larger data file. Data is available on the atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, ocean, and land surface. Data and related lessons can be used with existing curriculum to help students practice science inquiry and math or technology skills using real measurements of Earth system variables and processes. In this activity, students use NASA data to determine areas of the country that are most likely to produce solar energy by analyzing differences in incoming solar radiation graphs.

Space Archaeology

Want to be an archaeologist without leaving your school? No problem! Use a computer to become a space archaeologist (no spacesuit required)!

Surficial Features

Various types of sediments, or “surficial features,” lie above the bedrock in many places. The following activity shows how a visualization map of surficial features can be used to consider the interactions of the geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere.

Systems in Earth Science

What systems can you find within the Earth sciences? How do they work? How do they interact with each other? Within its new online Earth sciences theme, SEED has collected articles, activities, animations, and simulations to highlight the many systems of Earth.

Understanding Paleoclimate

Climate scientists study evidence in the geologic record, such as fossils, to figure out what climate was like over hundreds of thousands of years (“paleoclimate”). One fossil they use is pollen, a part of a flowering plant that helps make a seed. Pollen can be blown into lakes, where it is preserved in sediment. Pollen from spruces, which do well in cold climates, can suggest what climate was like when spruce pollen was deposited.

Water Filtration

Each group will design a water filtration system and present to the class, why they picked their design.

What's Down There?

To learn about sedimentary rock layers that we cannot see, geoscientists drill and bring up core samples of rock layers. Information from core samples, combined with that from other imaging techniques, allows geoscientists to map the depth and thickness of sedimentary rock layers below the surface. This activity will help you understand what's beneath the Earth's surface.


Water moves from Earth’s surface to the atmosphere and then returns to the surface. This process is nearly always depicted in water cycle diagrams by arrows drawn in a circular direction.

However, the actual path water may take in its cycle is far more complicated. In this activity, you will discover multiple cycles by acting as water molecules and traveling through parts of the overall water cycle. In the end, your water cycle will look nothing like the conceptual model but will represent a more realistic cycle.

Where Growth Meets Growth

Learn to identify fire risk factors for a property located near a wildland area.


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