Human Dimension: Environmental Impacts

Are You a Water Waster?

Try this experiment to find out if you're a water waster.

Carbon Travels

We find carbon everywhere on Earth ─ in trees, rocks, fossil fuels, oceans, and even you! Carbon doesn’t stay in one place, through. Scientists study how carbon moves from one place to another. This is the carbon cycle.

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.

Connecting With Nature

Go on an adventure with the Blue Goose, the symbol of the National Wildlife Refuge System!

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.

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.

Energy and Population

Just as your GPS helps you make sure you’re getting from point “a” to point “b” correctly, maps help scientists draw important conclusions and visualize important concepts they study. The right map can help a petroleum engineer find the best drilling site, or help a meteorologist make the best prediction. This interactive mapping activity will help you understand the relationship between the population of a given state and the amount of energy consumed there.

Exploring Change with GIS

On our ever-changing Earth, conditions may change quickly or slowly. Some changes come from natural processes; some from human activity. Satellites allow us to see conditions and track changes over time — in land use, forest health, land/water interface, and so on. Since 1972, Landsat satellites have been collecting data using various portions of the visible and invisible electromagnetic spectrum, at a scale close enough to see highways, but not individual buildings on a city block.

Exploring Climate Change with GIS

The factors at play in shaping our climate as well as the manifestation of its effects are geographic in nature. Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and methods are vital in documenting, monitoring, analyzing, and predicting these dynamic activities and interdependencies. Climate scientists and others in numerous careers and disciplines use GIS and its integrative nature to tackle these issues. You can, too.

Exploring for Petroleum - Modeling an Oil Reserve

Doing this investigation will help you understand how geoscientists identify and explore petroleum-rich reserves.


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