Cracked Plates & Tectonics

Cracked Plates & Tectonics Activity Source: Adapted with permission by Esri. In this activity, you’ll investigate dynamics in Earth’s crust that explain multiple Earth science phenomena. For the full activity, go to Materials A computer/projector with internet connection Take these “tech tips.” Measure: At the top of the map, click the Measure button. Hover and click the Distance button. Click continuously along what you want to measure. Double-click to finish. [Read More]

Disaster Supplies Kit

Disaster Supplies Kit Activity Source: Adapted from the FEMA/American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Coloring Book Background Following a natural hazard, basic services – electricity, water, gas, telephones – may be cut off for days. Or, you may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice. You probably won’t have time to shop or search for the supplies you’ll need. Gather the supplies you’ll need to deal with the situation now, before a natural hazard happens. [Read More]

Earthquake Machine

Earthquake Machine Activity Source: Incorporated Research Institutions in Seismology, 2005. Adapted with permission. Materials: 1 - One foot piece of 2x4 scrap wood 1 - 4"x36" Sanding Belt, 50 Grit 1 - 1/3 Sheet of Sandpaper, 60 Grit 2 - Screw Eye 12x1-3/16 1 - Bag of Rubber bands, varying size 16 in of Duct Tape 2 - Cloth measuring tapes with both English and metric markings 1 - Manila Folder Saw Needle Nose Pliers Scissors Glue (White or Contact Cement) Pencil Procedure: Using the tape measure and pencil, divide the one-foot length of 2" x 4" into two 4" blocks. [Read More]

Earthquake on the Playground

Earthquake on the Playground Activity Source: Adapted with permission from L.W. Braile and S.J. Braile and the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS). 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). [Read More]


Flood! Activity Source: Credit: Susan Hurstcalderone, science and resource teacher, Blessed Sacrament School, Washington, D.C. Length of Lesson: Two class periods Objectives: Students will understand the following: Different types of soil have different capacities for retaining rainwater. If the soil in an area will not hold enough rainwater, flooding problems will ensue. Soil can be tested for its water-retaining capacity. Materials: The following materials should be distributed to each group: [Read More]

Getting Creative - Geologic Map Day Learning Activities

Getting Creative - Geologic Map Day Learning Activities “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.” Bates herself had been inspired by the grand landscapes she viewed as she crossed the country on a train trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado. [Read More]

Hurricane Tracking

Hurricane Tracking Activity Source: Developed from the National Hurricane Center Website. Background Hurricanes are tropical storms that have a sustained wind speed greater than 74 miles per hour. They can deliver intense rainfall and record flooding. An average of 10 tropical storms develop in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico each year, and an average of six of these become hurricanes. In the western North Pacific, hurricanes are called typhoons, and similar storms in the Indian Ocean are called cyclones. [Read More]

Parks Past, Present, and Future

Parks Past, Present, and Future Activity Source: Adapted with permission by National Park Service. Over Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history, tectonic upheavals and colliding plates formed mountain ranges and carved out basins. Forces of erosion and weathering have been at work to break down these landforms. Records of these processes are imprinted on the land and define distinctive landscapes around the United States and in its national parks. The dynamic processes that formed the spectacular landscapes of many national parks remain active today. [Read More]

Sinkholes in a Cup

Sinkholes in a Cup Activity Source: Adapted from Project Underground, A Natural Resource Education Guide Background Sinkholes are natural depressions in the land caused when limestone and soils dissolve. They form when groundwater removes rock underground. They can form by slow gradual sinking or by sudden collapse of an underlying hole. Sinkholes are common in about one quarter of the U.S. You can usually identify them as circular or oval low spots in fields that may gather standing water after rains. [Read More]

Tree Rings and Ancient Climatic Conditions

Tree Rings and Ancient Climatic Conditions Activity Source: Adapted with permission by Archaeological Institute of America. 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. [Read More]