Earth's Systems (ESS2)

Soil, the Forgotten Resource

Soil is often overlooked as a natural resource. Like fossil fuels, we depend on it for energy in the form of foods. And, like fossil fuels, it is nonrenewable. Soil is a delicate balance of inorganic minerals, organic matter, living organisms, soil water, and soil atmosphere. The natural development of soil is an exceedingly slow process. In a few hours, a heavy rain falling on exposed soil can remove inches of what took hundreds of years to form. Here is a simple exercise that will allow you to compare the rates and amounts of erosion that result from various land uses.

Solar Cell Energy Nationwide

MY NASA DATA microsets are created using data from NASA Earth science satellite missions. A microset is a small amount of data extracted from a much larger data file. Data is available on the atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, ocean, and land surface. Data and related lessons can be used with existing curriculum to help students practice science inquiry and math or technology skills using real measurements of Earth system variables and processes. In this activity, students use NASA data to determine areas of the country that are most likely to produce solar energy by analyzing differences in incoming solar radiation graphs.

Splish Splash

Crucial to our existence, water sustains all life on Earth. Following the old adage, "What goes around comes around," water moves continuously through the stages of the hydrologic cycle (evaporation, condensation, and precipitation). How does our drinking water fit into this hydrologic cycle? Where did the water we drink fall as precipitation? Did this water percolate down into the ground as part of a groundwater system, or did it remain on the surface as part of a surface water system? What path did this water follow in order to become our drinking water? This lesson will explore the hydrologic cycle and water's journey to our glass.

State Soil Investigation

Many states have a designated state bird, flower, fish, tree, rock, and so on. Many states also have a state soil — one that has significance or is important to the state.
 
The Soil Science Society of America has developed a collection of state soil booklets, designed and written by professional soil scientists from the region to share in-depth information on each state soil. Each soil booklet includes a brief history of

Step by Step Weather Observations

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.

Surface Processes

Part A: Younger Deposits

Active erosion wears away surface rocks while deposition piles loose sediments on top of existing surfaces. Over time loose sediments may be compacted and cemented, which forms sedimentary rocks. Younger rocks and sediments are also shown on the geologic map. Let’s look for evidence of young rocks and active deposition using the map and other tools.

Take the Pulse of Your Classroom

The following activity can leverage SeisMac technology to help students understand how a seismometer records ground motions.

The EarthTrek Gravestone Project

The Gravestone Project, part of the global citizen science program called EarthTrek (www.goearthtrek.com), is seeking volunteers to visit cemeteries around the world and collect scientific data on how marble gravestones are weathering.

The Great Ocean Conveyor

Learn about ocean currents and systems in this activity from NOAA.

The Mountain Blows its Top

Students will observe fault movements on a model of the earth's surface.

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