Understanding Paleoclimate

Climate scientists study evidence in the geologic record, such as fossils, to figure out what climate was like over hundreds of thousands of years (“paleoclimate”). One fossil they use is pollen, a part of a flowering plant that helps make a seed. Pollen can be blown into lakes, where it is preserved in sediment. Pollen from spruces, which do well in cold climates, can suggest what climate was like when spruce pollen was deposited.

Using Energy Resources Wisely

People depend on their energy resources, so they need to know how to use them wisely. How do you think people can use the energy they rely on to heat their homes more efficiently?

Visualizing terrain with maps

Traditional geologic maps — sometimes crisscrossed with lines, blotted with colors, and marked with strike and dip symbols — have been used to depict the geologic makeup of the Earth for many years. New technologies such as satellite-enabled remote sensing are allowing geoscientists to create and use maps of greater richness and complexity than ever before.

Wash This Way!

People interact with Earth’s water (hydrosphere) in a variety of ways. We depend upon water for survival, but we also need it to keep clean and help avoid spreading disease. On our ever-changing Earth, the supply of fresh water can be limited for some humans. We need good techniques to make the best use of the fresh water we do have. For example, when you wash your hands, how do you do it? With soap and water? With water alone? Do you scrub your hands or simply rinse them under the faucet? Does it even matter? Yes, it does!

Watch Out for Landslides

Landslides not only are dangerous — causing on average more than 25 deaths and over $1 billion in damages a year — but are also widespread, occurring in all 50 states. Compounding the hazards, these natural disasters often occur along with other similar natural phenomena, such as floods or earthquakes. To minimize risk, the slope of land and materials underground must be considered when planning how to build in a community. Altering the slope of land, or even the amount of vegetation on a slope, can have dangerous consequences.

Water Filtration

Each group will design a water filtration system and present to the class, why they picked their design.

Water: A Never-ending Story

Water on earth is used over and over. The water cycle, the continuous movement of water from ocean to air and land then back to the ocean in a cyclic pattern, is a central concept in meteorology.

What Covers Our Land?

Looking at Earth from space is inspiring. All of the colors you see in a satellite image tell you a lot about the world around us. What is on the land around you? Pavement? A grassy lawn? A forest? What covers our land matters because we depend on and pasture to produce food, forests for wood products, plants for clean air, and water to support wildlife.

What Lies Beneath the Upper Crust?

Bombarded by Web sites, the evening news, newspapers, and popular magazines, citizen scientists often have to interpret scientific information directly from the media. Sometimes this can be a confusing process. How can you, as a citizen scientist, figure out whether science information you get from the media is reliable? More importantly, how can you find out what the information means for your life and the decisions you make? The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), an international marine research program, offers a unique perspective on these issues. Like many research organizations, IODP sends press releases about scientific discoveries to the media that you may eventually read, hear, or see reported. This activity will use IODP as an example to help you find ways of checking science news stories for accuracy.

What Will Survive?

Archaeological remains include artifacts (portable) and features (non-portable) made and used by humans. Archaeologists use these objects to understand how ancient people lived. How well archaeological remains survive depends on the materials they were made of, the ways they were used, the manner in which they were discarded, and the environment in which they were deposited. Organic remains generally decay in a short time unless preserved in special conditions.


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