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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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Jurassic Park Debate part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Role Playing:Examples
This role-playing exercise casts students as scientific specialists, assigned to a group either supporting or opposing the cloning of dinosaurs. Each group researches and presents its argument. -

Demonstration of radioactive decay using pennies part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
A demonstration (with full class participation) to illustrate radioactive decay by flipping coins. Shows students visually the concepts of exponential decay, half-life and randomness. Works best in large classes – the more people, the better.

Using Popcorn to Simulate Radioactive Decay part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Popping popcorn in your class is an excellent way to illustrate both the spontaneity and irreversible change associated with radioactive decay. It helps students to understand the unpredictability of decay.

M&M Model for Radioactive Decay part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
A tasty in-class demonstration of radioactive decay using two colors of M&M's. Illustrates the quantitative concepts of probability and exponential decay. This activity is appropriate for small classes (<40 students).

Calibrated Peer ReviewTM: Kerguelen Plateau, Southern Indian Ocean - Geologic History of A Large Igneous Province part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Peer Review:Examples
This activity explores the significance and geologic history of the Kerguelen Plateau Large Igneous Province, as revealed by Ocean Drilling Program. -

Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Earth History Timeline part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question The Earth is about 4.6 billion years old. Let's try to get a perspective on how long that really is. A roll of good quality toilet paper has 1000 squares. If the roll of toilet paper represents the ...

Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Age of the Earth part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Question The Earth is about 4.6 billion years old. Let's try to get a perspective on how long that really is. Suppose that you decided to count to 4.6 billion and that you counted 1 number every second. How ...

Gallery Walk Questions about Time and Earth History part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Gallery Walks:Examples
created by Mark Francek, Central Michigan University The following are potential questions that could be used in a gallery walk activity about time and earth history. The questions are organized according to the ...

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #28 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. An angular unconformity is present between layers ___ and ___. Image courtesy of USGS a. C and D b. B and D c. C and B d. A and B

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #29 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Tilting must have occurred Image courtesy of USGS a. after A was deposited b. after B was deposited and before A was deposited c. before C was deposited d. after C was ...

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #24 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? a. Superposition b. Cross-cutting relationships c. Original horizontality

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #25 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 #26 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 #27 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. C, D, B, A b. C, B, D, A c. B, C, D, ...

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #18 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Which statement is most accurate? a. Layers A and B are the same age. b. Layers A and C are the same age. c. Layers A and D are the same age.

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #19 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Which statement is most accurate? a. Layers B and D are the same. b. Layers B and C are the same. c. Layers A and D are the same. d. Layers A and C are the same

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #20 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? a. A b. B c. C d. D

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #21 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? a. A b. B c. C d. D

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #22 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? a. A b. B c. C d. D

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #23 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? a. A b. B c. C d. D