Earth and Space Science (A)

National Science Education Standard: Earth and Space Science

  • K-4
    1. Properties of earth materials
    2. Objects in the sky
    3. Changes in earth and sky
  • 5-8
    1. Structure of the earth system
    2. Earth's history
    3. Earth in the solar system
  • 9-12
    1. Energy in the earth system
    2. Geochemical cycles
    3. Origin and evolution of the earth system
    4. Origin and evolution of the universe

A Model of Three Faults

One of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature is a severe earthquake and its terrible aftereffects. An earthquake is a sudden movement of the Earth, caused by the abrupt release of strain that has accumulated over a long time. For hundreds of millions of years, the forces of plate tectonics have shaped the Earth as the huge plates that form the Earth's surface slowly move over, under and past each other. Sometimes the movement is gradual. At other times, the plates are locked together, unable to release the accumulating energy. When the accumulated energy grows strong enough, the plates break free. If the earthquake occurs in a populated area, it may cause many deaths and injuries and extensive property damage.

A Paste with a Taste

To allow students to produce a "marketable" product made from minerals that are used by most people every day. Both the abrasive and cleansing compounds found in toothpaste, calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate, are minerals.

Birdseed Mining

In this activity you will use seeds to model mining valuable materials from rocks.

Build Your Own Weather Station

Atmospheric scientists study weather processes, the global dynamics of climate, solar radiation and its effects, and the role of atmospheric chemistry in ozone depletion, climate change, and pollution. They observe what's going on in our atmosphere today and compare it to records from years past. To monitor the weather, atmospheric scientists use highly specialized instruments that measure rainfall, wind speed and direction, humidity, and atmospheric pressure. You can measure these at your home or school. Begin creating a weather station by building a psychrometer, also called a hygrometer, to measure the relative humidity.

Chemistry of Burning

Why is CO2 increasing in the atmosphere? Who is doing it? Many people think that CO2 is “pollution,” so that clean burning should be a way to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. In this demonstration, we review basic chemistry (see illustration) to realize that producing CO2 is an inevitable product of burning any fossil fuel.

Chocolate Rock Cycle

How sweet is this activity? It’s an introduction to the rock cycle using chocolate!

Cookie Mining

The purpose of this activity is to give the player an introduction to the economics of mining. Each player buys "property," purchases the "mining equipment," pays for the "mining operation," and finally pays for the "reclamation." In return, the player receives money for the "ore mined." The object of the game is to develop the mine, safeguard the environment, and make as much money as possible.

Core Sampling

Drilling is the only way to be sure that oil and gas fields exist and exactly what is present in the formation. Core samples reveal the physical and chemical nature of the rock. In this activity, you will create a model formation and “drill” for samples.

Cupcake Core Sampling

Trying to "see" what is beneath the surface of the Earth is one of the jobs of a geologist. Rather than digging up vast tracts of land to expose an oil field or to find some coal-bearing strata, core samples can be taken and analyzed to determine the likely composition of the Earth's interior. In this activity, students model core sampling techniques to find out what sort of layers are in a cupcake.

Dangerous Atmosphere

How much of a danger does severe weather pose for the area where you live? You can compute the answer yourself in this exercise.

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