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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 Hurricanes part of Cutting Edge:Hurricanes-Climate Change Connection:Activities
The exercise uses GIS to explore historical data on hurricanes (path, strength, name). Students identify trends in hurricane records, the impact of hurricanes on major U.S. cities, and how hurricanes change through ...

How Cities Affect Their Local Climate part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Are Our Cities Warming the Earth?
DATA: GLOBE Program Surface Temperature. TOOL: My World GIS. SUMMARY: Explore the urban heat island effect using student collected surface temperature data. Subset large datasets, buffer others, examine spatial relationships, and gather statistics to investigate temperature differences in urban and rural school sites.

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: What's in Your Woods? part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Whats in Your Woods?
DATA: Forest Inventory Growth and Analysis data, TOOLS: Spreadsheet, My World GIS - Investigate forest biodiversity in Maine and consider the environmental factors that contribute to tree species diversity.

Litter Retriever with a GPS Receiver part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Litter Reliever with a GPS Receiver
DATA: GPS waypoints TOOL: GPS unit, Google Earth SUMMARY: Track litter in a park or public space with a GPS receiver. Then import the data into Google Earth and consider the ideal location for new trash receptacles.

Impact of climate change on endangered fish population in Pyramid Lake part of Cutting Edge:Complex Systems:AGU Modeling Workshop 2010:Activity Ideas
Karletta Chief, Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute Topic: hydrology, ecology Course type: Graduate level course Description Pyramid Lake Pyramid Lake is located approximately 40 miles northeast of ...

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.

Exploring NCAR Climate Change Data Using GIS part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:NCAR Climate Change Data with GIS
DATA: NCAR Climate Change Scenarios. TOOL: ArcGIS. SUMMARY: Calculate summer average temperatures during the growing season (June, July, and August) using simulated, present-day, climate-modeled output and compare these to temperatures calculated using projected, future, climate-modeled output. Create a temperature anomaly map to summarize the 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 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.

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.

Protecting Wetlands from Exurban Development part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:WetlandDev
DATA: Land Use and Land Cover TOOL: My World GIS SUMMARY: Examine land-use changes around Macclenny, Florida. Propose locations for future development that minimize impacts on wetlands.

Investigating Renewable Energy Data from Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Panels part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Project REDI
DATA: Soltrex Online Data. TOOL: Microsoft Excel. SUMMARY: Examine solar energy generation; explore websites that monitor and report solar energy production from panels at many different locations; and consider how much of a school's or home's energy needs could be supplied by solar power.

Exploring phyllosilicate structures with polyhedral models part of Cutting Edge: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 ...

Visualizing Carbon Pathways part of Earth Exploration Toolbook:Carbon
DATA: NASA Satellite Images TOOLS: ImageJ and Image Composite Explorer (ICE) of NASA Earth Observations (NEO). SUMMARY: Build animations of satellite data to illustrate and explore carbon pathways through the Earth system.

Research Experiences in a Mineralogy Class part of Cutting Edge:Undergraduate Research:Case Studies
Dave Mogk, Montana State University Summary One of the goals of my Mineralogy class is to demonstrate how the principles and content covered in class can be applied to questions of geologic interest or that have ...

A Term Research Project Focused on Electron Microprobe Studies of Unknowns in a Junior-Level Mineralogy/Petrology Course part of Cutting Edge: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 ...

Modeling U-Series Concordia/Discordia Using STELLA part of Rates and Time:GSA Activity Posters
U-Series dating techniques are widely used to determine the absolute ages of some of Earth's oldest rocks, but the concordia/discordia diagram can be quite difficult for students to grasp. I have produced a STELLA-based lab exercise to develop students' understanding of this important chronologic technique. Students create models of the two isotopic decay systems and run these models to create the concordia diagram. They then carry out experiments in which they "add" or "remove" varying amounts of lead or uranium in simulation of metamorphism. In the course of the lab, students are introduced to the concepts of exponential decay and secular equilibrium as well as modeling concepts such as the creation of if-then statements.

Cyclostratigraphy and astrochronology exercise part of Cutting Edge:Rates and Time:Teaching Activities
Simple classroom activity to highlight how cyclostratigraphy and concepts of astronchronology can be used to refine age control in sedimentary rocks, estimate rates of processes, and for time control and ...