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Classroom Activities

These classroom and lab activities use data, simulations or modeling to teach geoscience topics. Examples include the use of model output, chemical analyses, remote sensing data, interactive data tools, or large databases.

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Using GLOBE Data to Study the Earth System part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Using GLOBE Data to Study Earths System
DATA: Student-collected environmental data TOOL: GLOBE Online Graphing Tool - Explore, graph, and compare data from the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) Program.

Crystal Structures as Geobarometers part of Integrating Research and Education:Crystallography:Cpx Geobarometer
Kent Ratajeski, kratajeski@montana.edu Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT Published Jan. 4, 2005 Description This exercise is based on the recent formulation of a geobarometer ...

Identifying Minerals with Chemical and Crystallographic Data part of Cutting Edge:Mineralogy:Activities
In this exercise, crystal structure data for a variety of unknown minerals are downloaded and entered into XtalDraw or CrystalMaker visualization software program. Step-by-step tutorials are provided with ...

Exploring Seafloor Topography part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Sea Floor
DATA: Digital Elevation Model Data. TOOL: GeoMapApp. SUMMARY: Explore a timeline about how we have learned about the oceans. Construct a profile across the Atlantic Ocean and create 3-D visualizations of the seafloor.

Landscape Models part of Cutting Edge:Geomorphology:Activities
An introduction to using WILSIM, an on-line lanscape evolution model.

Forecasting Lake Effect Snow in Lake Superior region part of Cutting Edge:Hurricanes-Climate Change Connection:Activities
This exercise is designed to present the realistic problems of forecasting weather. Lake effect snows are hard to forecast because they depend on information that isn't part of the regular set of information ...

Visualizing Sun Position of the Seasons part of Cutting Edge:Visualization:Examples
The goal of the exercise is to help students visualize and better understand how the sun changes apparent position over the course of the seasons.

Reading Time Series Plots part of Cutting Edge:Online Teaching:Activities for Teaching Online
This activity provides a brief introduction to GPS and provides a student activity to practice creating and reading time series plots with simplified GPS data and with authentic GPS data from Iceland.

Teaching geologic time and rates of landscape evolution with dice part of Rates and Time:GSA Activity Posters
Landscape evolution provides a convenient framework for understanding geologic time and rates because students can observe how processes like erosion and deposition shape their surroundings. In this example, students build 3-D sandbox models based on topographic maps and design and stage a "virtual adventure race." Sandbox landscapes are used to illustrate erosional processes,while local examples are used to discuss landscapes as transient or steady over different time- and length scales. Dice experiments illustrate radioactive decay and the shape of the age equation curve, and 14C dating, geochronology and thermochronology are introduced as "stopwatches" that start when a plant dies, a crystal forms, or a rock nears the surface and cools to a certain temperature. The sandbox model and thermochronometer "stopwatches" are combined to measure erosion rates and rates of landscape change. Ultimately, model rates (cm/hour) calculated from stopwatch times on the order of seconds can be related to geologic rates (km/My) calculated from real million-year-old samples.

Net Radiation and Temperature part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
This assignment helps students think about how net radiation affects surface temperature.

Exploring Air Quality in Aura NO2 Data part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Aura
DATA: NASA Aura nitrogen dioxide data. TOOL: Google Earth. SUMMARY: Learn about photochemical smog. Explore the relationships among human population density, nitrogen dioxide concentrations, and geography.

Exploring Monsoon Precipitation and Streamflow in a Semi-Arid Watershed part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Exploring the Sabino Canyon
DATA: Precipitation, streamflow, and topographic data TOOLS: Google Earth & My World GIS SUMMARY: Explore a semi-arid watershed in Arizona. Investigate the effect of summer thunderstorms on streamflow.

Analyzing Plate Motion Using EarthScope GPS Data part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Analyzing Tectonic Plate Motion with GPS Data
DATA: EarthScope GPS Data. TOOLS: Spreadsheet, Google Maps. SUMMARY: Learn how GPS monuments make precise measurements of Earth's surface. Graph motion data and map velocity vectors to explore tectonic motion and surface deformation in the Pacific Northwest.

Tropical Cyclones and Global Change part of Cutting Edge:Hurricanes-Climate Change Connection:Activities
This is a full semester project focusing on tropical cyclones and climate change for my undergraduate tropical meteorology class. It consists of five parts, outlined below.

Acoustic Waves and Seismac part of Cutting Edge:Geodesy:Activities
The students will expand on their knowledge of acoustic signals (from class lectures and book readings) by watching videos and doing an in-class exercise with the seismac program.

Investigating Earthquakes with ArcVoyager GIS part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Investigating Earthquakes
DATA: Recent and Historical Earthquake Data TOOL: ArcVoyager Special Edition GIS - Explore earthquake data and import them into a Geographic Information System (GIS). Analyze the data to predict where the next big earthquake will occur.

Investigating the Precipitation-Streamflow Relationship part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Investigating the Precipitation-Streamflow Relationship
DATA: Streamflow data, Precipitation data. TOOL: Spreadsheet application. SUMMARY: Produce a graph to compare data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

Mapping Plate Boundaries part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Interactive Lectures:Examples
Students can discover plate boundaries by plotting different sets of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on maps. These are then stacked on the overhead projector, outlining the tectonic plates. -

Measuring Distance and Area in Satellite Images part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Measuring Distance and Area in Satellite Images
DATA: MODIS Imagery. TOOL: ImageJ. SUMMARY: Examine images of the Aral Sea from 1973 through 2003. Use image analysis software to measure changes in the width and area of the freshwater lake over time.

Harker Diagrams part of Integrating Research and Education:EarthChem:Compositional Diversity in Volcanic Suites
Kent Ratajeski Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT Published Oct. 26, 2004. Description In this exercise, students use whole-rock major- and trace-element compositions of volcanic ...