A Bit of Engineering

A Bit of Engineering Activity Source: Adapted with permission by JOI Learning. Background Courtesy Earth Science World Image Bank; Copyright © Noblecorp The JOIDES Resolution is an amazing ship that contains all the equipment necessary to drill into the ocean floor for samples of rock and sediment: a derrick, drill pipe, drilling tools, and drill bits. Once the cylindrical core sample arrives on the rig floor, the drill crew passes the 10 m core to technicians. [Read More]

Analyzing Hurricanes Using Web and Desktop GIS

Analyzing Hurricanes Using Web and Desktop GIS Activity Source: ESRI, 2007. Adapted with permission. Background Hurricanes are among the most common and most destructive types of natural hazards on Earth. Because they occur across space and time, hurricanes can be better understood using maps, particularly digital maps within a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) environment. GIS allows you to use maps as analytical tools—not maps that someone else has made—but using your own maps to make decisions. [Read More]

Celebrate Wilderness

Celebrate Wilderness Activity Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Adapted with permission. The Wilderness Act, signed into law September 3, 1964, celebrates its milestone 50th anniversary in 2014. The legislation poetically defines this natural resource: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. [Read More]

Citizen Science

Citizen Science Activity Source: Adapted with permission by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. How are people affecting your local environment? How is our planet changing? Join the “citizen science” movement, and you can help discover the answers. Citizen science is a form of open collaboration in which members of the public participate in the scientific process to address real-world problems. Volunteers can work with scientists to identify research questions, collect and analyze data, interpret results, make new discoveries, develop technologies and applications, as well as solve complex problems. [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]

Critical Zone

Critical Zone Activity Source: Critical Zone Observatories The Critical Zone (CZ) is defined as the zone at Earth’s land surface extending from the top of the vegetation canopy through soil to subsurface depths at which fresh groundwater freely circulates. This is the zone where most terrestrial life — including humanity — resides. The U.S. Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs) provide important platforms for studying processes occurring in this zone. The CZOs aim to advance interdisciplinary studies of Earth surface processes, partly to recognize and predict variations in processes resulting from humans’ land use and climate change. [Read More]

Deep-Sea Drilling

Deep-Sea Drilling Activity Source: Adapted with permission by Deep Earth Academy. The JOIDES Resolution (JR) has physical dimensions unlike most oceangoing vessels. Why? So that scientists can sail nearly anywhere in the world to drill for samples of rocks and sediment from below the seafloor — in hopes of discovering clues about Earth’s history and structure, life in the deep biosphere, past climate change, earthquakes, and natural resources. Note for teachers: The JR has a flat bottom, a 6. [Read More]

Drill Site Dilemma

Drill Site Dilemma Activity Source: Consortium for Ocean Leadership. Adapted with permission. For teacher: The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is an international research program that explores the history and structure of Earth as recorded in seafloor sediments and rocks. It seeks to expand the reach of several previous programs by a collaborative union between the United States, Japan, and the European Union. The JOIDES Resolution is the research vessel that is operated by the United States. [Read More]

Earth: This Is Home

Earth: This Is Home Activity Source: Adapted with permission by Google. If you have ever used Google Earth, what was the first place you tried to find? For many people the answer is “my home.” Where humans choose to live is one of the fundamental influences on the surface of our planet. People influence and change Earth’s systems (atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere) as we shape and impact the landscape around us to fit our needs. [Read More]


EarthCaching Activity Source: Geological Society of America. Adapted with permission. EarthCaching is an exciting educational activity through which you can learn about Earth and the natural processes that shape our planet over time. By combining GPS technology with outdoor field experiences, EarthCaching allows students and others to experience the wonders of Earth in an entirely new and entertaining way. Information about EarthCaching for educators can be found at http://www.geosociety.org/GSA/Education_Careers/Field_Experiences/EarthCache/GSA/fieldexp/EarthCache/teachers.aspx. There is a free Educator’s Guide that includes lessons and correlations to the National Science Education Standards and National Geography Education Standards. [Read More]