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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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What is the Volume of the 1992 Eruption of Cerro Negro Volcano, Nicaragua? part of Pedagogy in Action:Partners:Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum:Physical Volcanology:Examples
SSAC Physical Volcanology module. Students build a spreadsheet to calculate the volume a tephra deposit using an exponential-thinning model.

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
Learn more about this review process.

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.

Sun Spot Analysis part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Introductory students use Excel to graph monthly mean Greenwich sunspot numbers from 1749 to 2004 and perform a spectral analysis of the data using the free software program "Spectra". -

Virtual Photoelectric Lab part of comPADRE Pedagogic Library:Teaching with Data Simulations:Examples
This is a virtual lab activity on the photoelectric effect based on a Java applet simulation of the experiment.

HydroViz virtual hydrologic observatory part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:Teaching with Google Earth:Examples
HydroViz is an educational "virtual" hydrologic observatory developed for a "real" watershed and is based on integration of field data, remote sensing observations and computer simulations of hydrologic variables and processes. The main purpose of HydroViz is to support hydrology education in engineering and earth science courses.

Conservation of energy of while rolling down a hill part of comPADRE Pedagogic Library:Teaching with Data:Examples
Students analyze video clips of kids rolling down a hill on skates, scooters, and bikes to determine whether mechanical energy is conserved.

Measuring velocity of objects using video clips part of comPADRE Pedagogic Library:Teaching with Data:Examples
Students learn to determine the velocity of moving objects by doing simple analysis of video clips.

Conservation of energy of a rollercoaster using high speed video part of comPADRE Pedagogic Library:Teaching with Data:Examples
A high speed video clip of a roller coaster is used as an example of conservation of mechanical energy. Student use the video to determine whether mechanical energy is conserved while the roller coaster rolls up, and then back down a hil.

Analysis of simple harmonic oscillator in a single video clip part of comPADRE Pedagogic Library:Teaching with Data:Examples
One video clip, with embedded graphs, can be used to help students understand the mathematical relationships that describe simple harmonic motion.

Reflection and Absorption of Light part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Students use a microcomputer connected to a light sensor and temperature probe to explore the reflection and absorption of light. -

Using PhET simulations in high school – Open-ended Pendulum Labs part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:PhET Interactive Science Simulations:Examples
These labs provide examples of using very open-ended questions to guide students in exploring a simulation and designing their own experiments. These labs can lead to a high level of quantitative thinking about data analysis.

Resources for using PhET simulations in class – PhET Activities Database part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:PhET Interactive Science Simulations:Examples
The PhET Activities Database is a collection of resources for using PhET sims. It includes hundreds of lesson plans, homework assignments, labs, clicker questions, and more. Some activities have been created by the PhET team and some have been created by teachers.

Using PhET simulations to replace real equipment in lab – Circuit Construction Kit part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:PhET Interactive Science Simulations:Examples
Labs and tutorials that use equipment such as circuits can be modified to use PhET simulations instead. Research shows that substituting the PhET Circuit Construction Kit simulation for real equipment in a variety ...

Writing your own activities - PhET Activity Guidelines part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:PhET Interactive Science Simulations:Examples
You can create your own lectures, homework, and labs around any PhET simulation by using the PhET Activity Guidelines . These guidelines will help you create "guided inquiry activities which encourage students to construct their own understanding," which are the most effective way to use PhET simulations.

Using PhET simulations in a large lecture class – The Photoelectric Effect part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:PhET Interactive Science Simulations:Examples
This activity provides a complete curriculum for teaching the photoelectric effect using the PhET Photoelectric Effect simulation in a large-lecture modern physics course. It includes links to powerpoint slides for two to three 50-minute lectures using Peer Instruction with clickers, and one homework assignment suitable for an online homework system. Research has demonstrated that students in classes using this curriculum have a better understanding of the photoelectric effect than students in classes using traditional instruction supplemented by a computerized tutor.

Discovering Velocity Outside of the Classroom part of MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection:MnSTEP Activity Mini-collection
This activity is an outside the classroom teaching with data experiment. It allows students to collect and analyze data in ordet to create a distance versus time graph and calculate average velocity from the graph.