Human beings have been linked to earth materials since prehistoric times. They used caves for shelter, shaped rocks into stone implements, and later refined metals to make tools. Beyond practical purposes, Earth materials also were used to make pigments for paint. Rock walls became canvases where ancient artists expressed themselves. In this exercise, we will explore the link between Earth materials and art.
How can a cave form from solid rock? Most caves are found in limestone, a rock made of materials of calcium carbonate. This rock is unusual because the solid minerals it is made of easily dissolve in weak acids. The most common weak acid in the environment is actually water!
Scientists use seismic technology to map patterns of rock formations below the surface of the Earth. Different types of rocks affect sound waves. Geologists use these sound waves to locate rocks that may contain oil and/or natural gas.
You can explore this principle with a tuning fork and various rocks. Gently strike a fork against the rocks. Note variations in sounds produced by different rocks. How could scientists use this information to help map the rock layers underground? In the following activity, you will explore one way scientists find oil beneath the Earth’s surface.
Have you ever felt an earthquake? What was it like? Where were you? What did you do? More than 143 million people are exposed to potentially damaging shaking in the United States.
In this activity, students will conduct experiments or participate in demonstrations to answer questions about sky and weather phenomena. Students also will analyze and present data.
Where is the water in soil? Solids, liquids, and gasses, the three phases of matter, are always present in soil. Small mineral and organic particles comprise the solid fraction, and there are spaces (pores) between the solid particles. Some pores are large, and others are very small. Air and water, the gas and liquid phases, exist in the pores. The size of the soil particles and pores affects how much water a soil can hold, and how that water moves through the soil.
Discover more about soil properties in this excellent outdoor activity from the National Park Service!
As a citizen scientist, you can take your own air temperatures with an outdoor thermometer and compare your readings to the official ones from the National Weather Service. It is important that you follow the correct procedures, however, for placing your thermometer. This activity will help you to do that, as well as find out what the normal yearly average temperature is for each day.
Various types of sediments, or “surficial features,” lie above the bedrock in many places. The following activity shows how a visualization map of surficial features can be used to consider the interactions of the geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere.
Students will observe fault movements on a model of the earth's surface.