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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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Crystal Structures as Geobarometers part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Mineralogy:Activities
In this exercise, designed for undergraduate igneous petrology or advanced mineralogy courses, students download a series of crystal structures from the American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database to explore ...

Crystallization-Differentiation of the Kilauea Iki Lava Lake part of Integrating Research and Education:EarthChem:Kilauea Iki Lava Lake
Kent Ratajeski Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT Published Oct. 26, 2004. Description In this exercise, students use major-element compositions of whole-rocks, volcanic glasses, ...

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

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.

Stream Characteristics Lab part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Students determine the relationship between the sinuosity of a river and its gradient by calculating gradients and sinuosity, and generating a graph on Excel. They then test the relationship by making measurements on a picture generated on Google Earth.

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.

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.

Tropical Cyclones and Global Change part of Cutting Edge:Topics: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.

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.

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.