Analyzing Hurricanes Using Web and Desktop GIS

Analyzing Hurricanes Using Web and Desktop GIS Activity Source: ESRI, 2007. Adapted with permission. Background Hurricanes are among the most common and most destructive types of natural hazards on Earth. Because they occur across space and time, hurricanes can be better understood using maps, particularly digital maps within a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) environment. GIS allows you to use maps as analytical tools—not maps that someone else has made—but using your own maps to make decisions. [Read More]

Build Your Own Weather Station

Build Your Own Weather Station Activity Source: “Build Your Own Weather Station,”, 2005. Adapted with permission. Background Atmospheric scientists study weather processes, the global dynamics of climate, solar radiation and its effects, and the role of atmospheric chemistry in ozone depletion, climate change, and pollution. They observe what’s going on in our atmosphere today and compare it to records from years past. To monitor the weather, atmospheric scientists use highly specialized instruments that measure rainfall, wind speed and direction, humidity, and atmospheric pressure. [Read More]

Climate and Temperature

Climate and Temperature Activity Source: Soil Science Society of America. Adapted with permission. There are many factors that combine to form soil, an important, slowly renewable resource. Some of these factors include climate, organisms, relief, parent material, and time. Soil provides the food, fiber, and building materials to nourish, clothe, and house Earth’s inhabitants. How does climate help soil to form? In warm, moist climates such as those in tropical rainforests, organic (formerly living) material breaks down most quickly. [Read More]

Dangerous Atmosphere

Dangerous Atmosphere Activity Source: Adapted with permission by The Weather Channel. Background How much of a danger does severe weather pose for the area where you live? You can compute the answer yourself in the exercise below. You may want to divide up tasks 6-13, one per student, and then compare results. Materials A computer with Internet access Paper and pen to record findings Procedure 1. Identify your state and county. [Read More]

Earth's Hydrologic Cycle

Earth’s Hydrologic Cycle Activity Source: Adapted from the Ocean Institute Curriculum Series Overview The ocean is the key element in Earth’s hydrologic cycle (water cycle). Students will construct a simple model of the hydrologic cycle to help them visualize and understand the movement of liquid water and heat. Concepts The hydrologic cycle is the continual movement of water from one place to another and from one state of matter to another. [Read More]

Engineer a Satellite

Engineer a Satellite Activity Source: NASA. Adapted with permission. Is the ozone hole getting smaller? How much rain is in the cloud of a hurricane? How much sea ice is melting in the Arctic? For over 50 years, NASA scientists have been asking questions and collecting data from space-based satellites to study Earth’s changing environment. Engineers and scientists are essential partners in this process. From the scientists’ questions, engineers help design instruments to get the measurements needed to help answer these questions. [Read More]

Exploring Your Community

Exploring Your Community Activity Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Adapted with permission. Think about the weather and environment where you live. Have you ever been in a strong storm? Have you ever experienced flooding, a wildfire, or really hot days? These types of environmental hazards are happening more often because of climate change. Even though these events can be scary, there is so much you can do in your own community to make it better able to handle these challenges. [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]

Glacier Slide

Glacier Slide Activity Source: National Park Service Objective You will be able to describe how a glacier carves an area and label the characteristics formed by the glacier’s movement. Background There are many glaciers all over Alaska. Flying into Lake Clark National Park and Preserve through Lake Clark Pass, you will see many glaciers. These glaciers were growing during the last Ice Age. Now many are retreating because Alaska is getting warmer. [Read More]

It’s the “Rain,” Man

It’s the “Rain,” Man Activity Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Adapted with permission. People find inspiration in many different places and things. Among them is taking joy in sensing the Earth around you. Feel the breeze on your face. Take in the fresh smell of the air after a spring rain. Use your hands to build something. Wherever you live you can get outside, savor your surroundings and observe what makes up the rhythms of the place you live. [Read More]