Earth scientists play a vital role in harvesting the energy resources on which we all rely. When preparing to drill for oil, for example, geoscientists must assess many aspects of a rock stratum (layer). For example, they must figure out the volume of the rock’s pores, or empty spaces, as compared with the rock’s total volume. This is called the rock’s porosity. To help you understand porosity, think about different sizes of gravel. Which size gravel will have the greatest porosity? Why? In this activity, you will work in groups to explore the answers to these questions.
Explore how the slope of land will effect water flow and life above ground in this activity from the Soil Science Society of America.
Learn the dangers of flooding in this activity, where students explore soil porosity and permeability.
Human activities can have a detrimental effect on animal habitats. Young students can witness the effect of water pollution on river habitats.
Google’s Street View is a rich resource for exploring geoheritage, since it visually transports us to many impressive sites across the country and around the world. Street View allows you to investigate a site, even one you don’t know well, which can lead to important insights. Of course, the real power and fun of Street View is that it allows you to explore by moving your visual perspective around the image.
This activity will have students collect data, graph it, and compare the information to what they already know about radioactive elements and dating the planet's age.
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.
What adventures await you as a student of the Earth sciences?
“America the Beautiful” has inspired patriotism in Americans for generations. But few today realize that the song’s lyrics were originally written in the late 1800s by Katharine Lee Bates as a poem — one that she first called “Pike’s Peak.”
Learn how oil rigs work in this activity from the Society of Petroleum Engineers.