Earth's Systems

Geologic Time Scale Analogy

Unraveling time and the Earth's biologic history are arguably geology's most important contributions to humanity. Yet it is very difficult for humans to appreciate time beyond that of one or two generations, much less hundreds, thousands, millions and billions of years. Perhaps we can only hope that students catch glimpses of our rich geologic heritage, particularly when most of our teaching is done in a classroom and not in a field setting. This exercise begins to make time more "three dimensional" and most importantly, students gain a better appreciation for geologic time and our Earth's history.

Getting Creative - Geologic Map Day Learning Activities

“America the Beautiful” has inspired patriotism in Americans for generations. But few today realize that the song’s lyrics were originally written in the late 1800s by Katharine Lee Bates as a poem — one that she first called “Pike’s Peak.”

Glacier Slide

Glaciers can create lakes, valleys and areas known as kettle marshes. Their weight and movement are the tools a glacier uses to shape the landscape. Use this experiment to look at small "glaciers" and how they shape the landscape around them.

Global Change: Where Land, Air and Water Meet

The atmosphere is a mixture of gases. Similarly, the world's oceans and fresh waters contain dissolved chemicals. Many substances dispersed in air or water are measured in parts per million. Some of these substances are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, yet even in small quantities they can be toxic. To develop an understanding of parts per million as a concept, teams of students will create successive dilutions of a solution to reach a parts-per-million concentration.

Gold Panning

Travel back in time and try your luck panning for 'gold' in this fun mineral activity.

Groundwater Movement

Water that accumulates beneath the surface of the Earth is called groundwater. Contrary to popular belief, groundwater does not form underground "rivers," but is actually found in the small spaces and cracks between rocks and other material such as sand and gravel. The following activity involves learning how water moves through rock materials such as sand, gravel, and clay.

Groundwater on the Move

The following activity involves learning how water moves through rock materials such as sand, gravel, and clay.

How Can You Test Your Soil?

As a citizen scientist, you can use a soil test kit to find out how much of each type of chemical is in your soil.

Investigating Different Rock Types

In this investigation, you will explore the characteristics of various types of rocks.

Investigating Rock Types

In any science, it is important to accurately and understandably describe your observations for others. Whether for advancing research or informing the public, communicating your work is critical.

For geologists, this comes down to describing rocks’ colors, patterns, shapes and other features. These features may reveal evidence about the past, clues to their suitability for a construction project, or signs of valuable natural resources hidden within them.

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