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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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Plate Tectonics writing assignment suitable for Calibrated Peer Review part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Peer Review:Examples
This is an example of a writing assignment focussed on the use of data to support the theory of plate tectonics. -

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.

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.

Plume Busters part of Cutting Edge:Public Policy:Activities
Students take on the role of a consultant to solve an environmental problem that could have dire consequences for a nearby community. This activity can be used to initiate discussion on a range of public policy ...

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 ...

Tropical Cyclones, Sea Surface Temperature, and Beyond part of Cutting Edge:Hurricanes-Climate Change Connection:Activities
The activity will use historical data of sea surface temperature and tropical cyclone origin and/or tracks to identify trends. Students use Arc GIS to explore projected SST changes and predict areas where tropical ...

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 ...

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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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.

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 ...

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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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 ...

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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 ...

Unit 1: Hazards, vulnerability and risk part of Map your Hazards!
Students will identify and apply credible geologic and social science data sets to identify local hazards and vulnerable groups and structures, and assess risk for their community.

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Unit 4 Risk at Divergent Plate Boundaries part of Living on the Edge
Volcanoes typically give warning that they are coming out of dormancy and entering an eruptive phase. Being able to recognize those warning signs and take appropriate actions (e.g. evacuations) are important ...

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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.

Unit 3 Hazards at Divergent Plate Boundaries part of Living on the Edge
Students work in small groups to examine data and videos of earthquakes, submarine volcanic eruptions, and black smokers at submarine divergent plate boundaries, and then predict similar processes at subaerial ...

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Exploring Air Quality in Aura NO2 Data part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Aura
DATA: NASA Aura nitrogen dioxide data. TOOL: Google Earth. SUMMARY: Learn about photochemical smog. Explore the relationships among human population density, nitrogen dioxide concentrations, and geography.

Exploring Monsoon Precipitation and Streamflow in a Semi-Arid Watershed part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Exploring the Sabino Canyon
DATA: Precipitation, streamflow, and topographic data TOOLS: Google Earth & My World GIS SUMMARY: Explore a semi-arid watershed in Arizona. Investigate the effect of summer thunderstorms on streamflow.