Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth's 4.6-billion-year-old history.

Chocolate Rock Cycle

How sweet is this activity? It’s an introduction to the rock cycle using chocolate!

Core Sampling

Drilling is the only way to be sure that oil and gas fields exist and exactly what is present in the formation. Core samples reveal the physical and chemical nature of the rock. In this activity, you will create a model formation and “drill” for samples.

Dating Popcorn

How do geologists understand the Earth’s history? In part, they measure the age of rocks and other natural materials by dating techniques. They can date rocks by gauging the amount of decay of radioactive elements. You can simulate the dating process with popcorn.

Deep-Sea Drilling

This activity enables students to estimate and calculate scales of distance and length as used by ocean drilling scientists.

Erosion in a Bottle

Soil erosion is the process of moving soil by water or wind — this happens naturally or through human interference. Preventing soil erosion is important because nutrients are lost, and sediment that accumulates in waterways impacts life there. Conserving soil depends on how it is protected by plants and coverings.
You will model erosion by water and compare the amounts of runoff and soil loss generated from three different ground cover types.

Geologic Time Scale Analogy

Unraveling time and the Earth's biologic history are arguably geology's most important contributions to humanity. Yet it is very difficult for humans to appreciate time beyond that of one or two generations, much less hundreds, thousands, millions and billions of years. Perhaps we can only hope that students catch glimpses of our rich geologic heritage, particularly when most of our teaching is done in a classroom and not in a field setting. This exercise begins to make time more "three dimensional" and most importantly, students gain a better appreciation for geologic time and our Earth's history.

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.

It's About Time

Geologic time can be difficult for people to understand. Our own lives are so short when we compare them to the age of the Earth, that the hundreds of millions of years of geologic time are almost too much to grasp. To understand how a timeline works, you will make a personal timeline and compare it to the geologic timeline shown here.

Leaf It to Me

In the water cycle, there are two ways water moves from the ground to the atmosphere: evaporation and transpiration. During evaporation, water changes from a liquid to a gas state. Transpiration is basically evaporation of water from plant leaves. Transpiration accounts for about 10 percent of the moisture in the atmosphere — with oceans, seas, and other bodies of water providing nearly all the rest.

Mining Creates Reservoirs and Habitats

There is an important interconnection between local mines and quarries that later become reservoirs and supply crucial water resources to local communities. The life cycle of a mine has different phases. Production supplies important resources such as construction materials and other important minerals. Then with the mine’s closure and reclamation, it is sometimes used for freshwater
storage and supply for the local community. Another part of a quarry’s life cycle can be to offer new habitats and support biodiversity.


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