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Activities for teaching about the Early Earth

This collection of activities contains materials used to teach about earth's history, evolution and extinction, geologic timelines, and methods used to date geologic events. We are seeking teaching materials that address early earth topics. Do you have a favorite teaching activity you'd like to share? Please help us expand this collection by sharing your own teaching materials.

You may also find useful information about references and resources for teaching about the early earth and ideas for creating early earth teaching activities.


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Living with Volcanoes: An Introduction to Geoarchaeology part of Cutting Edge:Environmental Geology:Activities
This activity introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of geoarchaeology through a case study of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. It combines short lectures with questions requiring analyses of a ...

Sedimentation of Mud - Observation and Analysis part of Cutting Edge:Enhance Your Teaching:Videos:Activities
The process of mud settling in a graduated cylinder was filmed as a time lapse series over about 2 hours. Students observe and analyze the sedimentation process.

ConcepTest: Earth Timeline - the fossil record part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Carefully examine the relative positions of the lettered arrows on the timeline below and estimate the ages represented by each arrow. Identify which letter corresponds most closely to the first appearance in the ...

ConcepTest: Earth Timeline - dinosaur extinction part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Carefully examine the relative positions of the lettered arrows on the timeline below and estimate the ages represented by each arrow. Identify which letter corresponds most closely to the extinction of the ...

ConcepTest: Earth Timeline - oldest known rock part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Carefully examine the relative positions of the lettered arrows on the timeline below and estimate the ages represented by each arrow. Identify which letter corresponds most closely to the age of the oldest known ...

ConcepTest: Earth Timeline - Formation of the Earth part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Carefully examine the relative positions of the lettered arrows on the timeline below and estimate the ages represented by each arrow. Identify which letter corresponds most closely to the formation of Earth. a. C ...

ConcepTest: Isotopic Dating with Parent to Daughter Ratios part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
The half-life of a radioactive isotope is 500 million years. Scientists testing a rock sample discover that the sample contains three times as many daughter isotopes as parent isotopes. What is the age of the rock? ...

ConcepTest: What percentage of parent isotopes remain? part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
The half-life of a radioactive isotope is 1,000 million years. Scientists testing a rock sample discover that the ratio of parent and daughter isotopes indicates that the rock is 3,000 million years old. What ...

ConcepTest: Best Index Fossil part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Four outcrops of rock are examined in different locations of a state. The rock types and the fossils they contain are illustrated in the adjacent diagram. Which fossil would be the best choice to use as an index ...

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #32 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
What principle would be the best to apply to determine the order in which the layers in the image below were formed? Image courtesy of USGS a. Original horizontality b. Cross-cutting relationships c. Superposition

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #33 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Which letter represents the layer that was formed earliest? Image courtesy of USGS a. A b. B c. C d. D

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #34 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Which letter represents the layer that was formed most recently? Image courtesy of USGS a. A b. B c. C d. D

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #35 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Which sequence of letters best represents the order in which the layers were formed (from oldest to youngest)? Image courtesy of USGS a. B, C, D, A b. C, B, D, A c. C, D, B, ...

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #36 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Which letter represents the rock unit that was formed earliest? Image courtesy of USGS a. A b. B c. C

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #37 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Which letter represents the rock unit that was formed most recently? Image courtesy of USGS a. A b. B c. C

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #38 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Which sequence of letters best represents the order in which the rock units were formed (from oldest to youngest)? Image courtesy of USGS a. B, A, C b. C, B, A c. B, C, A d. ...

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #39 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
What principle would be the best to apply to determine the relative order in which rock units A and B in the image below were formed? Image courtesy of USGS a. Original horizontality b. Cross-cutting relationships ...

ConcepTest: Cross Section Explaination part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
During fieldwork in the western U.S., an experienced geologist sketched the cross section below showing three different units of tilted rocks and their relative ages. What could you best infer from this diagram? a. ...

ConcepTest: Unconformity Explaination part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Which of the following sequence of events would best explain what happened between deposition of layers C and E illustrated in the diagram below? a. Uplift only. b. Uplift, erosion, then sea level rise. c. Uplift ...

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #40 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Which letter represents the layer that was formed earliest? Image courtesy of USGS a. A b. B c. C d. D