Chocolate Rock Cycle

Chocolate Rock Cycle Activity Source: The Geological Society of London. Adapted with permission. How sweet is this activity? It’s an introduction to the rock cycle using chocolate! Chocolate can be ground into small particles (weathered), heated, cooled, and compressed — just like rocks. Unlike rocks, chocolate can undergo these processes safely and at reasonable temperatures. Use your chocolate to create “sedimentary,” “metamorphic,” and “igneous” chocolate. And at the end of it all, make a tasty treat! [Read More]

Core Sampling

Core Sampling Activity Source: Society of Petroleum Engineers. Adapted with permission. Core samples are small portions of a formation taken from an existing well and used for geologic analysis. The sample is analyzed to determine porosity, permeability, fluid content, geologic age, and probable productivity of oil from the site. Drilling is the only way to be sure that oil and gas fields exist and exactly what is present in the formation. [Read More]

Cracked Plates & Tectonics

Cracked Plates & Tectonics Activity Source: Adapted with permission by Esri. In this activity, you’ll investigate dynamics in Earth’s crust that explain multiple Earth science phenomena. For the full activity, go to Materials A computer/projector with internet connection Take these “tech tips.” Measure: At the top of the map, click the Measure button. Hover and click the Distance button. Click continuously along what you want to measure. Double-click to finish. [Read More]

Earthquake Machine

Earthquake Machine Activity Source: Incorporated Research Institutions in Seismology, 2005. Adapted with permission. Materials: 1 - One foot piece of 2x4 scrap wood 1 - 4"x36" Sanding Belt, 50 Grit 1 - 1/3 Sheet of Sandpaper, 60 Grit 2 - Screw Eye 12x1-3/16 1 - Bag of Rubber bands, varying size 16 in of Duct Tape 2 - Cloth measuring tapes with both English and metric markings 1 - Manila Folder Saw Needle Nose Pliers Scissors Glue (White or Contact Cement) Pencil Procedure: Using the tape measure and pencil, divide the one-foot length of 2" x 4" into two 4" blocks. [Read More]

Earthquake on the Playground

Earthquake on the Playground Activity Source: Adapted with permission from L.W. Braile and S.J. Braile and the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS). 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). [Read More]

How Dangerous Are Tsunamis?

How Dangerous Are Tsunamis? Activity Source: Adapted with permission by Geological Society of America. Imagine playing beside the ocean, when suddenly, the water drops. Where the water used to be, there are wriggling fish and ribbons of seaweed. What do you do? You could be seeing the first sign of a tsunami ─ a long wave formed in the ocean when the sea floor moves suddenly. Most tsunamis happen because of large earthquakes on the ocean floor. [Read More]

Mapping Quake Risk

Mapping Quake Risk Activity Source: Esri. Adapted with permission. Today, people are “mapping our world” with the aid of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. Mapping can be done in the field or the lab—even from smartphones. You can make maps with real-time data about wildfires, tsunamis, and tornadoes. You can make maps with imagery collected with visible light, infrared, and radar data. GIS helps people solve everyday problems in Earth science from coastal erosion on the local beach to global climate change. [Read More]

Mapping Vertical Movements

Mapping Vertical Movements Activity Source: UNAVCO By installing GPS stations that measure the movement of Earth’s crust, UNAVCO advances geodesy, the study of Earth’s shape, gravitational field, and rotation. Each station has a receiver antenna that communicates with satellites to measure, within millimeters, how Earth is moving. Some movements are horizontal, the sliding of tectonic plates. Some movements are vertical, as when Earth’s mantle either sinks or rebounds in a process called isostatic rebound. [Read More]

Model of a Normal Fault

Model of a Normal Fault Activity Source: This model is one of a number that can be found on the Explore Earthquakes CD-ROM Teacher Resource available from the Geological Society of America. Background 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. [Read More]

Modeling Earthquake Waves

Modeling Earthquake Waves Activity Source: American Geophysical Union. Adapted with permission from Investigating Earth Systems , American Geosciences Institute. An earthquake occurs when massive rock layers slide past each other. This motion makes enormous vibrations, which travel from the site of the earthquake in waves. The waves (seismic waves) travel all the way through the Earth. Seismologists can record these waves when they reach Earth’s surface using seismographs. Earthquakes generate three kinds of waves: Compressional waves (P waves) travel the fastest. [Read More]