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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.

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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 ...

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.

Learning Landscapes: RIVERS part of Rates and Time:GSA Activity Posters
Learning Landscapes provides historic "geo-images" of Rivers and Slopes. Students work at their own pace through a series of on-line images with directed questions and expert answers for each image. Images stem in most part from the University of Vermont's Landscape Change Program archive. Preliminarily, we have found that students relate to local images of New England, use the site as a resource, relate image content to course field laboratories, and relate images to their previous knowledge.

How much is a million? How big is a billion? part of Rates and Time:GSA Activity Posters
We constructed a geologic timeline along a 5K road-race route across the MSU campus at a scale of 1 meter = 1 million years, using signage to mark important events in the history of life. In addition to over 1500 race participants, numerous casual observers were exposed to the timeline. This project works well in the classroom at a scale of 1 mm = 1 million years, and as a manageable one-day outdoor sidewalk chalk activity at a scale of 1" = 1 million years. Timelines drawn to scale lead the observer to the inescapable conclusions that "simple" life appeared early in Earth history; that it took the bulk of Earth history to achieve the next, multi-cellular stage of development; and that once the metazoan threshold was crossed, subsequent biological diversification-and the resulting fossil record-followed in rapid succession.

Diverse: Field, role play, storytelling, puzzle, cooperative, information systems part of Rates and Time:GSA Activity Posters
Multiple activities–see the poster

Implementing A Constructivist Teaching Model For Conceptualizing Geologic Time part of Rates and Time:GSA Activity Posters
The activity fosters middle learning students critical thinking and allows for student generated essential questions to further their understanding of Earth's history and geologic time.

Greenstone Belt Assessment part of Cutting Edge:Topics:Rates and Time:Teaching Activities
Students examine and describe rocks found as part of a geologic sequence formed during the Precambrian Era and determine the geologic significance of each of the rocks in order. The capstone (not included on the ...

Geologic Time Discussion Analogies part of Cutting Edge:Topics:Rates and Time:Teaching Activities
This is 4 ppt slides used to facilitate discussion w/students about the immensity of geologic time. I ask them a series of leading questions and try to get them to do "mental math" in order to grasp the ...

Cyclostratigraphy and astrochronology exercise part of Cutting Edge:Topics: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 ...

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.

Teaching Geoscience with Video Snips part of Cutting Edge:Enhance Your Teaching:Videos:Activities
Video snips are short video segments of live footage of geologic processes (settling sand, cleaving minerals, or landslides) used to engage students, foster discussion, and stimulate higher order thinking skills. ...

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

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 #41 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 #42 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Which letter is located on an unconformity surface? Image courtesy of USGS a. A b. B c. C d. 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: 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 #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