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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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Characterizing Plate Boundaries part of Cutting Edge:Online Teaching:Activities for Teaching Online
Students examine maps showing four different types of geologic data along three specific plate boundaries, and document the patterns in the data along each boundary. Next, they compare their observations to the ...

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Accessing Streamflow Data via the Worldwide Web part of Cutting Edge:Geodesy:Activities
The objectives of this exercise are to (a) use the worldwide web to access hydrologic data, and (b) compare precipitation/runoff characteristics in different regions of the USA.

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Where is that chunk of crust going? part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
I introduce students to GPS, frames of reference, and the permanent GPS stations in the EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) in class, and obtain near-real-time data for two stations from UNAVCO. We use ...

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Poleward Heat Transport Jigsaw part of Cutting Edge:Hurricanes-Climate Change Connection:Activities
Based on great plate tectonic exercise by Sawyer et al. (2005 JGE), this small-group exercise with maps of data about earth's energy balance helps students visualize poleward heat transport.

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Groundwater Consulting Lab part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
Students are given a real-world scenario in this lab exercise in which they must determine the extent of groundwater contamination while staying within a budget. They progressively request more information and ...

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Sea Ice Extension for the Earth as a System Learning Activity part of Cutting Edge:Visualization:Examples
The purpose is to identify global patterns and connections in environmental data contained in the GLOBE Earth Systems Poster; to connect observations made within the Earth Systems Poster to data and information at ...

CLEAN Selected This activity has been selected for inclusion in the CLEAN collection.
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Floods on the Minnesota River part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
Students download and manipulate data from historical floods on the Minnesota River (could be done for any river) and use to establish a flood hazard zone for St. Peter, Minnesota. This lab was developed by ...

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Working with Electron Microprobe Data from a High Pressure Experiment - Calculating Mineral Formulas, Unit Cell Content, and Geothermometry part of Cutting Edge:Petrology:Teaching Examples
In this problem set students use electron microprobe analyses of a peridotite partial melting experiment to determine mineral formulas, calculate unit cell content, plot results on a classification diagram, and use ...

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Two streams, two stories... How Humans Alter Floods and Streams part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
An activity/lab where students determine the changes in 100-year flood determinations for 2 streams over time.

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Using Visual MODFLOW to Simulate Groundwater Flow and Transport part of Cutting Edge:Hydrogeology:Activities
Investigate the Dupuit Approximation to describe groundwater flow in an unconfined aquifer, using a computer spreadsheet program and Visual MODFLOW (Waterloo Hydrogeologic, Inc.). The major strength of this ...

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Directed Discovery of Crystal Structures part of Integrating Research and Education:Crystallography:Directed Discovery of Crystal Structures
David Mogk and Kent Ratajeski Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT Published Jan. 25, 2005 Description This contribution is modified from a published exercise "Directed ...

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Is There a Trend in Hurricane Number or Intensity? part of Cutting Edge:Hurricanes-Climate Change Connection:Activities
This lab guides students through an examination of the hurricane record to determine if there is a trend in hurricane intensity over the past 40 years and introduces some issues related to statistics and ...

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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.

Radiometric Dating Isochron exercise part of Cutting Edge:Rates and Time:Teaching Activities
Hands-on introduction to using the isochron method to determine radiometric ages.

Consequences of Modern Energy Use: A Remote Sensing analysis of the gulf oil spill using ArcGIS software. part of Cutting Edge:Energy:Energy Activities
Students download satellite imagery and conduct a remote sensing analysis of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill using ArcGIS software.

Earthquake resistant design part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
In groups of two, the students design and build a three-story building to be as earthquake resistant as possible. Using an in-house designed and built shaker table, we load each floor of the building based on area ...

Tracking Tectonic Plates Using Two Independent Methods part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
Students use two independent methods to determine relative plate motions across a plate boundary. They find that plate tectonic theory generally holds up but also discover sophisticated detail (e.g. velocities ...

Hot spot volcanism in western North America part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
Students use real data on age of volcanism and ash thickness distribution to better understand hot spot volcanic activity.

Plotting Florida River Data Using Excel part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
This exercise is used to prepare students to analyze data they will collect during their group project. It familiarizes students with previously collected data, and builds skills graphing and interpreting data.

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

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