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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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Identifying Minerals with Chemical and Crystallographic Data part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Mineralogy:Activities
In this exercise, crystal structure data for a variety of unknown minerals are downloaded and entered into XtalDraw or CrystalMaker visualization software program. Step-by-step tutorials are provided with ...

Unit 4: Hazards from Flooding part of Interactions between Water, Earthâs Surface, and Human Activity
In this unit, students examine detailed hydrologic data from one river to identify ways in which precipitation and stream discharge influence flooding which often impacts nearby human societies. They also research ...

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Case Study 3.1 - Predicting Patterns: What Does La Niña Look Like? part of Climate of Change
This activity is designed to allow students who have been exposed to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation to analyze the La Niña mechanism and predict its outcomes. Students create an SST map for La Niña and both ...

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Gulf Stream Heat Budget and Europe part of Cutting Edge:Enhance Your Teaching:Visualization:Examples
Student groups are presented a problem scenario to research and make recommendations, predictions, and a resolution of the problem based on data and visualizations.

Investigating the Effect of Warmer Temperatures on Hurricanes part of Cutting Edge:Topics:Hurricanes-Climate Change Connection:Activities
Students investigate the link between ocean temperatures and hurricane intensity, analyze instrumental and historical data and speculate on possible future changes.

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, ...

Olivine Crystal Structure part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Mineralogy:Activities
In this exercise, students use the American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database and a crystallographic visualization program such as Xtaldraw or CrystalMaker to study the temperature-dependent ordering of Mg ...

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 ...

Case Study 4.2- Predicting Glacial Futures part of Climate of Change
In this activity, students predict rates of change using recent data from marine-terminating outlet glaciers in Greenland. They calculate the average rate of area change for a set of 34 glaciers from 2001 to 2009 ...

InTeGrate Developed This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process.
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Unit 3: How Streams Change part of Interactions between Water, Earthâs Surface, and Human Activity
Students use Google Earth to observe two river systems and characterize changes in gradient from the headwaters to the mouth, and relate changes in those gradients to different rock types. At one location, they ...

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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.

Case Study 2.1 - Climate Variability in the Equatorial Pacific part of Climate of Change
This activity engages students in examining tropical Pacific pressure, sea-surface temperature, and precipitation data over a 10 year time span. Students work in groups to understand a data set, then debrief as a ...

InTeGrate Developed This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process.
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Case Study 3.2 - Exploring Patterns: ENSO on the Global Stage part of Climate of Change
I designed this activity to allow students who have become somewhat familiar with the El NiÃo-Southern Oscillation to explore the reality of ocean surface temperature data. Students analyze a time series of SST ...

InTeGrate Developed This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process.
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Case Study 5.2 - Interpretations: Reading the Book of Earth part of Climate of Change
I designed this activity to provide students with a comprehensive experience working with real climate data. Students graph, analyze, and critically interpret ice core data from Greenland. You can implement this ...

InTeGrate Developed This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process.
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Identifying Minerals with Chemical and Crystallographic Data part of Integrating Research and Education:Crystallography:Identifying Minerals Using Chemical and Crystallographic Data
Kent Ratajeski Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT Published Jan. 25, 2005 Description In this exercise, crystal structure data for a variety of unknown minerals are downloaded and ...

Order/Disorder Within Crystal Structures as a Function of Temperature part of Integrating Research and Education:Crystallography:Olivine Structure at High Temperatures
Kent Ratajeski Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT Published Jan. 25, 2005 Description The olivine unit cell. Crystallographic sites house Si (black), O (red), and the M1 (brown) ...

Exploring phyllosilicate structures with polyhedral models part of Cutting Edge:Courses:Mineralogy:Activities
In this exercise, students build polyhedral models to learn about phyllosilicate structures and how they relate to physical properties. This directed-discovery activity is a very 'hands-on' experience ...

A Term Research Project Focused on Electron Microprobe Studies of Unknowns in a Junior-Level Mineralogy/Petrology Course part of Cutting Edge:Develop Program-Wide Abilities:Undergraduate Research:Case Studies
Jeff Ryan, University of South Florida Summary Two students using the FCAEM Electron microprobe via remote operation in Jeff Ryan's GLY 3311C course. DetailsAs the core activity of petrology portion of a ...

Drinking Water Quality: An Interdisciplinary Research Experience of Introductory Geology and Chemistry Classes part of Cutting Edge:Develop Program-Wide Abilities: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:Develop Program-Wide Abilities: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 ...