Earth and Space Science (A)

National Science Education Standard: Earth and Space Science

  • K-4
    1. Properties of earth materials
    2. Objects in the sky
    3. Changes in earth and sky
  • 5-8
    1. Structure of the earth system
    2. Earth's history
    3. Earth in the solar system
  • 9-12
    1. Energy in the earth system
    2. Geochemical cycles
    3. Origin and evolution of the earth system
    4. Origin and evolution of the universe

Cupcake Core Sampling

Trying to "see" what is beneath the surface of the Earth is one of the jobs of a geologist. Rather than digging up vast tracts of land to expose an oil field or to find some coal-bearing strata, core samples can be taken and analyzed to determine the likely composition of the Earth's interior. In this activity, students model core sampling techniques to find out what sort of layers are in a cupcake.

Dangerous Atmosphere

How much of a danger does severe weather pose for the area where you live? You can compute the answer yourself in this exercise.

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.

Dig Into Soil

Learn how soil scientists observe and record data and how that information is useful to farmers, builders, and others in order to use the land appropriately.

Earth's Hydrologic Cycle

The ocean is the key element in Earth's hydrologic cycle (water cycle). Students will construct a simple model of the hydrologic cycle to help them visualize and understand the movement of liquid water and heat.

Earthquake Machine

An earthquake simulation activity from IRIS.

Earthquake on the Playground

Push away from those paper seismograms and get outside to make your own earthquake waves! You're going to learn about earthquake location kinesthetically. In the activity below, you will model how earthquake waves travel through the Earth at different speeds. You also will construct and utilize a graph to characterize the relationship between distance and time of travel of seismic waves (a travel-time curve). Finally, you'll use the constructed travel-time curves to locate the epicenter of a simulated earthquake by triangulation.

Energy Efficiency

Even in an area with an extreme climate, the ground maintains a relatively constant temperature. Because of this, a house that is built partly or entirely underground can be more energy-efficient than a home above ground. During the winter, the ground is warmer than the air. During the summer, it is cooler. Any large mass of earth tends to maintain a constant temperature. You can see for yourself how this works by testing how long it takes for a thermometer buried in sand or soil to reach the temperature of surrounding air.

Engineer a Satellite

In this activity, you will select the scientific instruments for your satellite, calculate the power requirements for all the subsystems, and construct a scale model of your very own Earth observing satellite.

Exploring Change with GIS

On our ever-changing Earth, conditions may change quickly or slowly. Some changes come from natural processes; some from human activity. Satellites allow us to see conditions and track changes over time — in land use, forest health, land/water interface, and so on. Since 1972, Landsat satellites have been collecting data using various portions of the visible and invisible electromagnetic spectrum, at a scale close enough to see highways, but not individual buildings on a city block.

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