Soil is often overlooked as a natural resource. Like fossil fuels, we depend on it for energy in the form of foods. And, like fossil fuels, it is nonrenewable. Soil is a delicate balance of inorganic minerals, organic matter, living organisms, soil water, and soil atmosphere. The natural development of soil is an exceedingly slow process. In a few hours, a heavy rain falling on exposed soil can remove inches of what took hundreds of years to form. Here is a simple exercise that will allow you to compare the rates and amounts of erosion that result from various land uses.
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.
Want to be an archaeologist without leaving your school? No problem! Use a computer to become a space archaeologist (no spacesuit required)!
As a citizen scientist, you can take your own air temperatures with an outdoor thermometer and compare your readings to the official ones from the National Weather Service. It is important that you follow the correct procedures, however, for placing your thermometer. This activity will help you to do that, as well as find out what the normal yearly average temperature is for each day.
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.
Geodesy is the science that measures and represents the size and shape of Earth. In the United States, survey reference points are developed and maintained by NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS). In this activity, you will find data on the location and description of survey marks in your area and—if you like—search for them through a variation of geocaching.
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.
The following activity can leverage SeisMac technology to help students understand how a seismometer records ground motions.
No matter where we are on Earth, we can observe changes in vegetation. Some changes are drastic, such as going from dormant to full growth during a temperate winter.
Vegetative growth is dependent on both surface temperature (which influences soil temperature) and precipitation (which influences soil moisture). Together these environmental variables help determine the beginning, duration, and end of the growing season; the latter marked by leaf senescence, when leaves of deciduous trees die and turn colors.
Geologic maps can tell you a lot about the rocks beneath your feet. You can use the legend with the map to figure out what rock types are in various geographic areas. The legend can also tell you in what geologic period those rocks formed. Geologists use such maps to help identify where natural resources are and where natural hazards are likely to occur. They are also critically useful in other ways, such as in making wise land use decisions.