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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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The Heat is On: Understanding Local Climate Change part of Cutting Edge:Visualization:Examples
Students draw conclusions about the extent to which multiple decades of temperature data about Phoenix suggest that a shift in local climate is taking place as opposed to exhibiting nothing more than natural ...

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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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Igneous Rock Compositions and Plate Tectonics part of Cutting Edge:Petrology:Teaching Examples
In this exercise, students use whole-rock major- and trace-element compositions of igneous rocks from a variety of tectonic settings and locations to explore the importance of plate setting in determining magma ...

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How Fast Do Materials Weather? part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Interactive Lectures:Examples
A think-pair-share activity in which students calculate weathering rates from tombstone weathering data. -

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Carbon Dioxide Exercise part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Interactive Lectures:Examples
Students work in groups, plotting carbon dioxide concentrations over time on overheads and estimating the rate of change over five years. -

CLEAN Selected This activity has been selected for inclusion in the CLEAN collection.
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Analyzing the Antarctic Ozone Hole part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Analyzing the Antarctic Ozone Hole
DATA: Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) Images. TOOLS: ImageJ, Spreadsheet. SUMMARY: Animate and explore 10 years of Southern Hemisphere ozone images. Then measure and graph the area of the ozone hole over time.

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 ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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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.

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.

Abrupt climate change, greenhouse gases, and the bipolar see-saw part of Cutting Edge:Early Career:Previous Workshops:Workshop 2010:Teaching Activities
In this activity, students work with paleoclimate proxy data (d18O, CH4, CO2)from the Byrd and GISP2 ice cores. Students prepare a graph of paleoclimate data and use the graph to answer several questions about the ...

Drinking Water Quality: An Interdisciplinary Research Experience of Introductory Geology and Chemistry Classes part of Cutting Edge:Undergraduate Research:Case Studies
Robert Shuster, University of Nebraska at Omaha Summary At the University of Nebraska at Omaha, we have involved students in introductory Geology and Chemistry classes in an interdisciplinary study of drinking ...

Undergraduate research students investigate dune processes and change at a Lake Michigan site (Case study from 2007-2008 field season) part of Cutting Edge:Undergraduate Research:Case Studies
Deanna van Dijk, Department of Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies, Calvin College Overview of the Project Undergraduate research students working with Deanna van Dijk, a physical geographer and faculty ...

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.

Dating Students: Relative vs. Numerical Time part of Cutting Edge:Rates and Time:Teaching Activities
This activity introduces students to the fundamental ideas of relative versus radiometric dating, using the students themselves as a sample population. In the first half, the students attempt to order the people in ...

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 ...

Hurricane Tracking part of Cutting Edge:Hurricanes-Climate Change Connection:Activities
This is a homework assignment that focuses student attention on ongoing hurricane/tropical storm development, often during the height of hurricane season. The students are directed to a web site (I like ...