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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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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 ...

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Radiocarbon dating project part of Cutting Edge:Rates and Time:Teaching Activities
This is an example of an activity used in a Quaternary Geochronology course, in which a small group of students (3-4) is tasked with transforming a set of activity measurements into radiocarbon ages and calibrated ...

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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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Confirmation of the IPCC Prediction re: Increased Storminess part of Cutting Edge:Hurricanes-Climate Change Connection:Activities
A two-part culminating activity for a meteorology/climatology unit in an Earth Science course centered upon data acquisition and analysis regarding the confirmation of the IPCC predicition regarding increased ...

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Exploring the Link between Hurricanes and Climate using GCM Results part of Cutting Edge:Hurricanes-Climate Change Connection:Activities
This activity requires students to examine global climate model output available online and consider the potential impact of global warming on tropical cyclone initiation and evolution. As a follow-up, students ...

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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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Working with Electron Microprobe Data from a High Pressure Experiment - Calculating Mineral Formulas, Unit Cell Content, and Geothermometry part of Cutting Edge:Courses: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 ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Igneous Rock Compositions and Plate Tectonics part of Cutting Edge:Courses: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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An Isograd and Mixed-Volatile Exercise Using Data from the Ubehebe Peak Contact Aureole part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Petrology:Teaching Examples
This is a problem set for an introductory or advanced petrology course. It uses field data to help teach the determination and balancing of mixed-volatile reactions and locating isograds in siliceous dolomites in a ...

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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.

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.