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Make a Thunderstorm

When warm and cold air masses meet, a thunderstorm can grow. Thunderstorms also cause heavy rain, flash flooding, hail, strong winds and tornadoes. In this activity, you will learn about convection and how air moves.

Make Your Own Compass

Learn how to make a compass using household objects!

Making Earth Art With Google Earth

If you were an alien visiting Earth for the first time, you might remark on the diverse and incredible landscapes and patterns around majestic mountains, green forests, rolling grasslands, and turquoise oceans. You also might recognize geometries of civilization and changing weather patterns. All this can be explored from space. In this activity you will explore our planet using Google Earth and locate natural and man-made patterns and landscapes on Earth’s surface that inspire you.

Making Visible the Path of the Sun

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This we know from personal observation. But have you ever thought about where the sun is in the sky at the same time each day?

You might think the sun would appear at the same place at the same time each day. This would be true if Earth had no tilt and its orbit were a perfect circle. But this is not the case.

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 a Refuge

A refuge is a place where you can record observations of seasonal changes to plants, trees, and wildlife. You can use GPS (global positioning system) data to mark an observation spot and record your observations. Then, if you can, visit the same national wildlife refuge during other seasons in the year to document changes in the natural world.

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.

Measure for Measure

Geoscientists use special boats to conduct research at sea. One of these boats is named the JOIDES Resolution (JR). Unlike most oceangoing vessels, the JR has a flat bottom, a 6.4-meter hole in the middle, 12 laboratories, and a derrick towering 67 meters above the waterline! Why? So scientists can sail nearly anywhere in the world to drill for samples of rocks and sediment from below the seafloor. What for? In hopes of discovering clues about Earth's history and structure, life in the deep biosphere, past climate change, earthquakes and natural resources.

Measuring Glacial Retreat

The USGS has been studying glaciers in Glacier National Park since 1850. It is estimated that there were 150 glaciers in the park back then, and when the national park was established in 1910. Today only 25 glaciers remain.

 Scientists go back every year to repeat photographs, as well as to examine the ice and the ecology of the landscape to see how glacial retreat is affecting plant and animal species that live there.

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