Paleontologists are the geoscientists who discover and study fossil evidence of past life. Sometimes they even find the footprints of dinosaurs that roamed the surface of the Earth long ago. Ever wonder how paleontologists are able to determine, based on fossil evidence, whether a particular dinosaur was walking or running when it left footprints behind? These two activities will help you to learn how these scientists can do that.
Nitrogen is an element that is found both in living things and the nonliving parts of the Earth system. In this classroom activity, students play the role of nitrogen atoms traveling through the nitrogen cycle to gain understanding of the varied pathways through the cycle and how nitrogen is relevant to living things.
How do archaeologists learn about climatic conditions and their effects on people in the past? In 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted so violently that the sound of the eruption could be heard 1,600 miles away. Gases from the volcano shot into the stratosphere almost six miles above the Earth’s surface and lingered for years. Sulfur dioxide combined with water molecules to form sulfate particles that reflected sunlight away from Earth, gradually causing the planet’s surface to cool. The colder temperatures caused severe weather events worldwide.
In this 50-minute activity, you can use NASA satellite data to find out where there are the greatest concentrations of aerosols over the course of a year in the tropical Atlantic region, and where these aerosols come from.
Climate scientists study evidence in the geologic record, such as fossils, to figure out what climate was like over hundreds of thousands of years (“paleoclimate”). One fossil they use is pollen, a part of a flowering plant that helps make a seed. Pollen can be blown into lakes, where it is preserved in sediment. Pollen from spruces, which do well in cold climates, can suggest what climate was like when spruce pollen was deposited.
People depend on their energy resources, so they need to know how to use them wisely. How do you think people can use the energy they rely on to heat their homes more efficiently?
Traditional geologic maps — sometimes crisscrossed with lines, blotted with colors, and marked with strike and dip symbols — have been used to depict the geologic makeup of the Earth for many years. New technologies such as satellite-enabled remote sensing are allowing geoscientists to create and use maps of greater richness and complexity than ever before.
People interact with Earth’s water (hydrosphere) in a variety of ways. We depend upon water for survival, but we also need it to keep clean and help avoid spreading disease. On our ever-changing Earth, the supply of fresh water can be limited for some humans. We need good techniques to make the best use of the fresh water we do have.
For example, when you wash your hands, how do you do it? With soap and water? With water alone? Do you scrub your hands or simply rinse them under the faucet? Does it even matter? Yes, it does!
Landslides not only are dangerous — causing on average more than 25 deaths and over $1 billion in damages a year — but are also widespread, occurring in all 50 states. Compounding the hazards, these natural disasters often occur along with other similar natural phenomena, such as floods or earthquakes.
To minimize risk, the slope of land and materials underground must be considered when planning how to build in a community. Altering the slope of land, or even the amount of vegetation on a slope, can have dangerous consequences.
Each group will design a water filtration system and present to the class, why they picked their design.