A Model of Three Faults

A Model of Three Faults Activity Source: Adapted from the USGS Learning Web Lesson Plans Background One of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature is a severe earthquake and its terrible aftereffects. An earthquake is a sudden movement of the Earth, caused by the abrupt release of strain that has accumulated over a long time. For hundreds of millions of years, the forces of plate tectonics have shaped the Earth as the huge plates that form the Earth’s surface slowly move over, under and past each other. [Read More]

Connecting With Nature

Connecting With Nature Activity Source: Adapted with permission by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service The “Blue Goose” has been the symbol of the National Wildlife Refuge System since it was first drawn by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist J.N. “Ding” Darling, one of the greatest supporters of wildlife conservation in the 20th century. President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida’s Pelican Island as the first wildlife refuge in 1903. Now the National Wildlife Refuge System includes more than 550 refuges. [Read More]

Conservation in Action

Conservation in Action Activity Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Adapted with permission. “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” --Rachel Carson, 1954 The second full week of October is not only Earth Science Week—it is also National Wildlife Refuge Week! During this time, you are encouraged to consider the legacy of Rachel Carson, an early leader in the environmental conservation movement, and the resource management activities of the U. [Read More]

Core Sampling

Core Sampling Activity Source: Society of Petroleum Engineers. Adapted with permission. Core samples are small portions of a formation taken from an existing well and used for geologic analysis. The sample is analyzed to determine porosity, permeability, fluid content, geologic age, and probable productivity of oil from the site. Drilling is the only way to be sure that oil and gas fields exist and exactly what is present in the formation. [Read More]

Dating Popcorn

Dating Popcorn Activity Source: Association of American State Geologists. Adapted with permission. 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. The time necessary for half of any given amount of one element (the “parent element”) to decay to become another element (the “daughter element”) is called the element’s “half-life. [Read More]

Dynamic Wetlands

Dynamic Wetlands Activity Source: Nebraska Earth Systems Education Network, School of Natural Resources By Roseanne Williby Purpose To increase student awareness of the value and importance of our wetlands Background What is a wetland? Wetlands are called one of the world’s most productive ecosystems. They produce more plant and animal life than woodlands or prairies. Characteristics, like water levels, naturally change seasonally and annually. Wetlands are in transition between aquatic and terrestrial systems where the water table is usually at or near the land surface or the land is covered by shallow water. [Read More]

Exploring for Petroleum - Modeling an Oil Reserve

Exploring for Petroleum - Modeling an Oil Reserve Activity Source: Adapted from “Earth System Science in the Community,” American Geosciences Institute, 2005 Background Since 1970, oil and natural gas have provided more than half of the energy used each year in the United States to produce electricity, heat, transportation fuels, and many everyday products from balloons to vitamins. Oil and natural gas are forms of petroleum, a word that literally means “oily rock. [Read More]

Geologic Age

Geologic Age Activity Source: Adapted from the USGS Learning Web Lesson Plans Background At the close of the 18th century, the haze of fantasy and mysticism that tended to obscure the true nature of the Earth was being swept away. Careful studies by scientists showed that rocks had diverse origins. Some rock layers, containing clearly identifiable fossil remains of fish and other forms of aquatic animal and plant life, originally formed in the ocean. [Read More]

Geologic Time Scale Analogy

Geologic Time Scale Analogy Activity Source: Ritger, S.D. and R.H. Cummins. 1991. Using student-created metaphors to comprehend geologic time. Journal of Geological Education. 9:9-11. Purpose To introduce students to the vastness of [geologic time](/content/geological- time-scale) and the concept of scale. Background 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. [Read More]