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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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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:Topics: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.

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

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.

Protecting Wetlands from Exurban Development part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:WetlandDev
DATA: Land Use and Land Cover TOOL: My World GIS SUMMARY: Examine land-use changes around Macclenny, Florida. Propose locations for future development that minimize impacts on wetlands.

Investigating Renewable Energy Data from Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Panels part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Project REDI
DATA: Soltrex Online Data. TOOL: Microsoft Excel. SUMMARY: Examine solar energy generation; explore websites that monitor and report solar energy production from panels at many different locations; and consider how much of a school's or home's energy needs could be supplied by solar power.

Reasons for the Seasons part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Activities
The inquiry method and meteorological and astronomical online data can be used to elicit the inconsistencies of students' naïve ideas about the "real" reasons for the seasons. The first phase of this two-part investigation uses online meteorological data to identify factors that might explain differences of seasonal temperatures among cities These factors are used to hypothesize why differences of seasonal temperatures occur among cities. During the second phase, the variables and hypotheses that were previously identified in part one are used to design and conduct an inquiry-oriented investigation. Astronomical data is used as part of the investigation to "test" students' hypotheses conclusions are drawn then communicated.

The Use of Cube Puzzle and Toilet Paper Roll Model in Teaching The Nature of Science part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Activities
This is a hands-on activity in scientific method that uses inexpensive materials such as carton boxes, toilet paper roll tube, strings and toothpicks. It engages the students to conduct pattern observation, prediction, testing and ends up with a model construction. It also encourages thinking outside the box, group discussion and creation of individual cube puzzles.

Understanding Carbon Storage in Forests part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:GLOBECarbon
DATA: Forest Inventory and Analysis data, TOOLS: isee Player, Spreadsheet application. SUMMARY: Compare field collected data with results produced by a forest biomass model to understand the process and challenges scientists face when doing terrestrial carbon cycle research.

Chesapeake Interactive Modeling Project part of Cutting Edge:Visualization:Examples
CHIMP is an interactive numerical model of Chesapeake Bay circulation. Users can vary freshwater flux and wind speed/direction and observe the response in real time, with several visualization options.

Global Change in Local Places part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:SHALDRIL
DATA: SHALDRIL Core Data; NOAA Pollen data TOOL: GeoMapApp SUMMARY: Import Antarctic sediment core data files into GeoMapApp to create maps and graphs. Use data to infer past climate conditions based on current vegetation distributions.

Investigating Earthquakes with ArcExplorer GIS part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Investigating Earthquakes 2
DATA: Recent and Historical Earthquake Data. TOOL: ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education GIS. SUMMARY: Explore earthquake data and import them into a Geographic Information System (GIS). Analyze the data to predict where the next big earthquake will occur.

Exploring and Animating GOES Images part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Exploring and Animating GOES Image
DATA: GOES Weather Images. TOOL: ImageJ. SUMMARY: Transform a time series of GOES images into an animation. Plot a storm track and determine storm speed.

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).

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.

Looking into Earth with GIS part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Seismic Wave Velocity
DATA: Seismic Wave Model Output. TOOLS: My World GIS, Microsoft Excel. SUMMARY: Examine seismic wave data in a Geographic Information System (GIS). Analyze wave velocities to infer the depth of the crust-mantle boundary.