Global Change: Where Land, Air and Water Meet

Global Change: Where Land, Air and Water Meet Activity Source: USGS LearningWeb Objective The atmosphere is a mixture of gases. Similarly, the world’s oceans and fresh waters contain dissolved chemicals. Many substances dispersed in air or water are measured in parts per million. Some of these substances are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, yet even in small quantities they can be toxic. To develop an understanding of parts per million as a concept, teams of students will create successive dilutions of a solution to reach a parts-per- million concentration. [Read More]

Gold Panning

Gold Panning Activity Source: Adapted with permission by Adrienne Barnett, Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, California. “Thar’s gold in them thar classrooms!” History meets Earth science in the fun, hands-on activity below. Some gold deposits, or lodes, are found in veins of fractured rock. After millions of years of weathering, gold nuggets and flakes are eroded out of the veins and carried away by streams and rivers. Gold is 19 times heavier than water and tends to settle on the bottom and in the bends of rivers, streams, and lakes with sand and gravel, forming deposits called placer. [Read More]

It's About Time

It’s About Time Activity Source: National Park Service. Adapted with permission. 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. But for us to understand Earth activities today, we must have at least some basic understanding of geologic time. [Read More]

Logs of Straw - Dendrocronology

Logs of Straw - Dendrocronology Activity Source: “Logs of Straw: Dendrochronology,” U.S. Geological Survey, 2002. Adapted with permission. Background Dendrochronologists use tree rings to go back in time to learn more about past climate. Using straws to recreate tree rings, you can learn how dendrochronologists work. Construct a 50-year climatic history on a three- meter time line. USGS Materials One set of straws with tree-ring markings: USGS One three-meter strip of adding machine tape for each group Colored pencils for each group Colored markers for each group A notebook for recording results (optional) Reference materials such as almanacs that provide students with dates of social and scientific events over the past four decades Procedure In groups of four, examine the set of straws that your teacher has prepared for you (by copying the Core Sample template onto the straws). [Read More]

Looking for Wild Elements

Looking for Wild Elements Activity Source: Fish & Wildlife Service. Adapted with permission. For the Teacher: Few schools are within walking distance of a federally designated wilderness. However, many schools are within walking distance of land with wild elements. Students can look for examples of places with wild elements on or near their school grounds. Then they can duplicate the activity in a wilder landscape, such as those found on national wildlife refuges. [Read More]

Making a Cave

Making a Cave Activity Source: National Park Service. Developed by Kristen Lucke for the Views of the National Parks. Adapted with permission. Background We usually think of caves forming as rocks are dissolved and the particles are washed away, leaving hollow spaces behind. This activity simulates the way that dissolution, a chemical weathering process, leads to the formation of caves. When precipitation such as rainwater or snowmelt mixes with carbon dioxide from the air and from decaying plants in the soil, the result is carbonic acid. [Read More]

Making Your Own National Park Geologic Tour

Making Your Own National Park Geologic Tour Activity Source: National Park Service, 2006. Adapted with permission. Background In this investigation, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the many geological features in our country’s national parks. You might not realize this, but a large number of the national parks were created because of their amazing geology. Just think of the geological features of Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and many more! [Read More]

Map-Making Basics

Map-Making Basics Activity Source: U.S. Geological Survey, 2006. Adapted with permission. Background Maps are two-dimensional ways of representing information about the natural and built world from a “top-down” perspective. You are probably familiar with road maps that show where roads go and which roads intersect with others and where. You also may have seen weather maps, which show weather patterns across a specific geographic area, or political maps, which show where borders are for countries and areas within those countries. [Read More]

Mapping a Refuge

Mapping a Refuge Activity Source: National Energy Education Development Project. Provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Adapted with permission. The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world’s premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants. Why not visit a national wildlife refuge ( in or near your community? A refuge is a place where you can record observations of seasonal changes to plants, trees, and wildlife. [Read More]

Model of a Normal Fault

Model of a Normal Fault Activity Source: This model is one of a number that can be found on the Explore Earthquakes CD-ROM Teacher Resource available from the Geological Society of America. Background A normal fault occurs when rocks break and move because they are being pulled apart. As the area is stretched, the rocks move along the fault. Each movement causes an earthquake. This model demonstrates how a block of rock is extended by a normal fault. [Read More]