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Teaching Activities

These teaching activities have been submitted via a number of projects including On the Cutting Edge and may be useful in teaching Environmental Geology.


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Estimating Exchange Rates of Water in Embayments using Simple Budget Equations.
Keith Sverdrup, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Simple budgets may be used to estimate the exchange of water in embayments that capitalize on the concept of steady state and conservation principals. This is especially true for bays that experience a significant exchange of freshwater. This exchange of freshwater may reduce the average salt concentration in the bay compared to seawater if it involves addition of freshwater from rivers, R, and/or precipitation, P. Alternatively, it may increase the average salt concentration in the bay compared to seawater if there is relatively little river input and high evaporation, E. Since freshwater input changes the salt concentration in the bay, and salt is a conservative material, it is possible to combine two steady state budgets for a bay, one for salt and one for water, to solve for the magnitude of the water flows that enter and exit the bay mouth. Students will make actual calculations for the inflow and outflow of water to Puget Sound, Washington and the Mediterranean Sea and compare them to actual measured values.

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Is the New Madrid Seismic Zone at risk for a large earthquake?
Eliza Richardson, Penn State University - University Park
In this lesson we discuss the controversy regarding the extent of seismic risk in the central United States today. We learn how to estimate earthquake recurrence interval using a variety of methods. This lesson ...

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How Fast Do Materials Weather?
Rebecca Teed, Wright State University-Main Campus
A think-pair-share activity in which students calculate weathering rates from tombstone weathering data. -

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Investigation: When will there no longer be glaciers in Glacier National Park?
An Investigation Question activity developed by Carol Ormand, Wittenberg University.
Students use historical data on the extent of the Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park to estimate when the glacier will melt completely.

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Flood Frequency and Risk Assessment
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Students calculate recurrence intervals for various degrees of flooding based on historical data. Students then do a risk assessment for the surrounding community.

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Global Phosphorus Cycle
Kirsten Menking, Vassar College
Students create and modify a STELLA model of the global phosphorus cycle to test a number of scenarios.

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Case Study: Zhouqu, China Landslide
Robin Humphreys, College of Charleston
This is a 'citizen science' research project where students to apply their knowledge of landslide processes in an investigation of the natural and anthropogenic causes of a real-world landslide ...

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Campus Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
Suzanne Savanick, Macalester College. Email: shansen2@macalester.edu Suzanne Savanick and Chris Wells co-taught a class like this for the Macalester College environmental studies senior seminar during spring 2008.
Students conduct a greenhouse gas emission inventory for their college or university. Students analyze findings and present information to the college or university community. -

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Teaching the nitrogen cycle and human health interactions
Margaret Townsend, University of Kansas Main Campus
This activity uses objects, pictures, and text in a matching game to define the nitrogen cycle and the environmental and human health impacts of nitrogen. The game can be used to associate useful and detrimental ...

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Systems Geobiology Powers of 10
Bruce Fouke, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Systems Geobiology is the study of complex interactions arising from the interplay of biological, geological, physical, chemical and even social systems across multiple spatial (microns to thousands of kilometers) ...

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