Earth's Systems

Global Change: Where Land, Air and Water Meet

The atmosphere is a mixture of gases. Similarly, the world's oceans and fresh waters contain dissolved chemicals. Many substances dispersed in air or water are measured in parts per million. Some of these substances are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, yet even in small quantities they can be toxic. To develop an understanding of parts per million as a concept, teams of students will create successive dilutions of a solution to reach a parts-per-million concentration.

Gold Panning

Travel back in time and try your luck panning for 'gold' in this fun mineral activity.

Groundwater Movement

Water that accumulates beneath the surface of the Earth is called groundwater. Contrary to popular belief, groundwater does not form underground "rivers," but is actually found in the small spaces and cracks between rocks and other material such as sand and gravel. The following activity involves learning how water moves through rock materials such as sand, gravel, and clay.

Groundwater on the Move

The following activity involves learning how water moves through rock materials such as sand, gravel, and clay.

Grow Your Own Crystals

Most minerals happen naturally as crystals. Crystals are made of specific atoms or molecules joined to make distinctive repeating patterns. The crystals that make up many kinds
of minerals are formed deep underground through the interaction of fluid, pressure, and temperature. Some minerals form at or near the surface. You may have seen spectacular mineral samples in museums, but you might not be aware that minerals are everywhere, including in your body.

How Can You Test Your Soil?

As a citizen scientist, you can use a soil test kit to find out how much of each type of chemical is in your soil.

Investigating Different Rock Types

In this investigation, you will explore the characteristics of various types of rocks.

Investigating Rock Types

In any science, it is important to accurately and understandably describe your observations for others. Whether for advancing research or informing the public, communicating your work is critical.

For geologists, this comes down to describing rocks’ colors, patterns, shapes and other features. These features may reveal evidence about the past, clues to their suitability for a construction project, or signs of valuable natural resources hidden within them.

Investigating Soil

Investigate different types of soil by using a core sample.

Iron Minerals on the Moon

This easy exercise models one of the processes currently being researched at four U.S. universities to enable recovery of iron and other materials found on the Moon to construct an inhabited workstation.  Research is being done to perfect magnetic separation techniques to recover iron-bearing minerals from the lunar soil. 

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