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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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Relative vs. Numerical Dating and Geochronology with Beads part of Cutting Edge:Rates and Time:Teaching Activities
Students use relative dating principles to interpret the ages of rocks in a block diagram. They then "date" samples from these rocks to test their relative age hypotheses. Sample dating is done by ...

Multiple temporal scales of landscapes and landforms part of Cutting Edge:Rates and Time:Teaching Activities
This exercise provides students with a timescale and list of geomorphic landforms and processes. The activity requires that students utilize their knowledge of process-driving mechanisms to place landforms and ...

Discovering the Principles of Relative Age Determination a Think-Pair-Share In-Class Activity part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Activities
In this in-class activity, students are challenged to identify rock units and geologic features and determine the relative ages of these features without prior instruction in the classical methods of relative age determination.

Calculating the radius of the Earth part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Activities
Science students often have difficulty thinking about large spatial scales. The purpose of the exercise is to redo Eratosthenes' calculation of the radius of the Earth using data from to sites in ancient Egypt. The excercise teaches about the methodology of science - how Eratothenes figured it out - rather than worried about what the "right" answer is. It can also be used to discuss the role of models in geological thinking.

Exploring the nature of geoscience using cartoon cards part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Activities
In this activity, students work in groups to put a set of cartoon cards in order, much in the way that we might assemble a geologic history. The primary goal of the activity is to explore the nature of science in general and the nature of geoscience or historical science specifically, without requiring any content knowledge.

Learning Assessment #8 - Concept Map (2011) part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
An end of the term, in-class activity that challenges students to synthesize their understanding of the fundamental concepts taught over the course of the semester - plate tectonics, the rock cycle, geologic time ...

Learning Assessment #6 - Geologic Time (2010) part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
An in-class activity that tests students' understanding of the principles of relative age, absolute age and numerical age dating.

South Carolina Studies: Bringing the Geologic Time Scale Down to Earth in the Students' Backyard part of NAGT:Teaching Resources:Teaching in the Field:Field Trip Collection
South Carolina Studies - Bringing the Geologic Time Scale Down to Earth in the Students' Backyard: John R. Wagner, Clemson University Intended Audience: This exercise is suitable for the general public, though ...

ConcepTest: Oldest Rocks 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: Rock Ages part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Match the features in the relative time diagram below with the events described in the short sentences. Assume all rocks are sedimentary unless otherwise indicated. What is the best estimate of the age of F if A is ...

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #10 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 #1 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image below and determine which layer is oldest. Image courtesy of Alexandra Moore, Cornell University a. Layer 1 b. Layer 2 c. Layer 3

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #2 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Which statement is most accurate in regard to rocks located at A and B? a. A is older than B. b. B is older than A. c. A and B are the same age.

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #3 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Assume all the rock layers are horizontal. Which statement is most accurate in regard to rocks located at A, B, and C? a. A is the oldest and C is the youngest. b. B is the ...

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #4 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:ConcepTests:Examples
Examine the image of rock layers below. Which statement is most accurate? Image courtesy of USGS. a. Layers A and E are the same age. b. Layers B and D are the same age. c. Layers C and F are the same age.

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #5 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 first? Image courtesy of the USGS. a. A b. B c. C d. D

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #6 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 last? Image courtesy of USGS. a. A b. B c. C d. D e. E

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #7 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. A and E b. B and D c. C and F d. F and D

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #8 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. A, B, C, D, E b. B, D, C, E, A c. A, ...

ConcepTest: Relative Layer Age #9 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. between deposition of layers E and A. c. before B was deposited. d. between deposition of ...