Earth and Human Activity (ESS3)

Density of Minerals

Density is an intrinsic physical property of minerals that relates to the composition of the mineral and to the pattern in which the mineral’s atoms are arranged. “Intrinsic” means that the property is the same for the mineral, no matter what the size or shape of the sample. In this activity, students will measure and compare the densities of minerals.

Disaster Supplies Kit

Prepare a kit in case of natural hazards or a disaster. This list from FEMA and the Red Cross will have you prepared for almost any emergency!

Drill Site Dilemma

This activity gives your students a glimpse at the difficulty of seafloor surveying, as well as the challenges the JOIDES Resolution faces during each expedition. Your students also will learn about latitude and longitude and plotting coordinates.

Earth: This Is Home

If you have ever used Google Earth, what was the first place you tried to find? For many people the answer is “my home.” Where humans choose to live is one of the fundamental influences on the surface of our planet.

Earthquake Machine

An earthquake simulation activity from IRIS.

Earthquake on the Playground

Push away from those paper seismograms and get outside to make your own earthquake waves! You're going to learn about earthquake location kinesthetically. In the activity below, you will model how earthquake waves travel through the Earth at different speeds. You also will construct and utilize a graph to characterize the relationship between distance and time of travel of seismic waves (a travel-time curve). Finally, you'll use the constructed travel-time curves to locate the epicenter of a simulated earthquake by triangulation.

Engineer a Satellite

In this activity, you will select the scientific instruments for your satellite, calculate the power requirements for all the subsystems, and construct a scale model of your very own Earth observing satellite.

Exploring 'Wild' Places with GIS

Regardless of where you live, engaging with the landscape means exploring spatial relationships between human and natural phenomena. Geographic information systems (GIS) technology ( provides an effective way to visualize and analyze these places, and your contact with them.

Exploring Change with GIS

On our ever-changing Earth, conditions may change quickly or slowly. Some changes come from natural processes; some from human activity. Satellites allow us to see conditions and track changes over time — in land use, forest health, land/water interface, and so on. Since 1972, Landsat satellites have been collecting data using various portions of the visible and invisible electromagnetic spectrum, at a scale close enough to see highways, but not individual buildings on a city block.

Exploring Climate Change with GIS

The factors at play in shaping our climate as well as the manifestation of its effects are geographic in nature. Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and methods are vital in documenting, monitoring, analyzing, and predicting these dynamic activities and interdependencies. Climate scientists and others in numerous careers and disciplines use GIS and its integrative nature to tackle these issues. You can, too.


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