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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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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.

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 ...

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

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.

Annotating Change in Satellite Images part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Annotating Change in Satellite Images
DATA: Landsat Images. TOOL: ImageJ. SUMMARY: Examine time-series images that show landuse changes in China. Produce a map documenting how human activities have changed the coastline.

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 ...

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.

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.

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

How Cities Affect Their Local Climate part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Are Our Cities Warming the Earth?
DATA: GLOBE Program Surface Temperature. TOOL: My World GIS. SUMMARY: Explore the urban heat island effect using student collected surface temperature data. Subset large datasets, buffer others, examine spatial relationships, and gather statistics to investigate temperature differences in urban and rural school sites.

Global Patterns part of Cutting Edge:Complex Systems:Teaching Activities
Based on my research on how best to enhance students' understanding of complex systems, I utilize various activities to support pattern recognition, a fundamental skill to understanding complex systems ...

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: What's in Your Woods? part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Whats in Your Woods?
DATA: Forest Inventory Growth and Analysis data, TOOLS: Spreadsheet, My World GIS - Investigate forest biodiversity in Maine and consider the environmental factors that contribute to tree species diversity.

Litter Retriever with a GPS Receiver part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Litter Reliever with a GPS Receiver
DATA: GPS waypoints TOOL: GPS unit, Google Earth SUMMARY: Track litter in a park or public space with a GPS receiver. Then import the data into Google Earth and consider the ideal location for new trash receptacles.

Exploring NCAR Climate Change Data Using GIS part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:NCAR Climate Change Data with GIS
DATA: NCAR Climate Change Scenarios. TOOL: ArcGIS. SUMMARY: Calculate summer average temperatures during the growing season (June, July, and August) using simulated, present-day, climate-modeled output and compare these to temperatures calculated using projected, future, climate-modeled output. Create a temperature anomaly map to summarize the analysis.