Earth and Human Activity (ESS3)

Investigating Water Use in Your Home

Water is often called a renewable resource, but what does that really mean? Is water an unlimited resource? What happens to water after we use it? This investigation will help you understand exactly how much water you use in your home and how you can keep from wasting water. If many people are participating in this investigation, work in small groups of 3-5. Before you begin, think about all the ways water is used in your home. How much water do you and your family use at home everyday? Record your thoughts and share them with others. Make a list that combines everyone’s uses of water in their homes.

Know Your Energy Costs

Fossil fuels play an important role in allowing us to have lifestyles we’re accustomed to, but they do emit carbon dioxide, and we all want to be good stewards of our resources. The goal of this activity is to become aware of how much energy you use at school — and the financial and environmental costs.

Liquefaction

When it comes to slipping, sliding, and stability in soils, the key word is “liquefaction.”

During an event like an earthquake, liquefaction is the process by which saturated soil behaves like a liquid. This can be problematic, as a liquid soil loses structure and can cause buildings to sink, foundations to crack, and soil to slide down slopes all at once.

How does the type of soil affect how much a house will sink or shift during an earthquake? Conduct an experiment to test your ideas!

Logs of Straw - Dendrocronology

Dendrochronologists use tree rings to go back in time to learn more about past climate. Using straws to recreate tree rings, you can learn how dendrochronologists work.

Looking for Wild Elements

In this activity, students will explore local places with wild elements, such as wildlife refuges. Students also will create maps showing spatial relationships between wild places and school, and they will find creative ways to record experiences.

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.

Model of a Normal Fault

A normal fault occurs when rocks break and move because they are being pulled apart. As the area is stretched, the rocks move along the fault. Each movement causes an earthquake. This model demonstrates how a block of rock is extended by a normal fault.

Modeling an Oil Reserve

Abundant oil and natural gas form only where conditions in the Earth are just right. Doing this investigation will help you understand how geoscientists identify and explore petroleum-rich reserves.

Modeling Oil and Gas Reservoirs

This activity will help you to understand some of the factors that petroleum geologists need to consider when deciding where to recommend drilling for oil. Since people use petroleum products for energy and as source materials for petrochemicals, it is important as citizen scientists to understand the science and technology behind the search for oil and natural gas.

Natural Gas Formation

Natural gas, which is mostly methane, is an energy resource used for generating electricity and heating, powering transportation, and manufacturing products. Right now, one-quarter of the world’s energy comes from natural gas. In this investigation, you will make a simple model of how gases can form from decaying material. You will also explore the effects of temperature on gas formation.

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