On the Cutting Edge - Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
Teaching Introductory Geoscience Courses in the 21st Century
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Activities for Introductory Geoscience

Here you will find a wide range of activities for teaching introductory geoscience courses. you can refine your search by selecting the topic or resource type, or by typing in search terms into the search box in the box below.

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Observations and Measurements in Geology part of Activities
This exercise gives students an introduction to topics they will encounter throughout the semester, and future course work. It covers plate tectonics, weathering, and basic rock descriptions.

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Earth and Mars Core Sampling part of Activities
The activity focuses on sedimentology and core sampling here on Earth and makes comparisons with core samples from Mars to determine the composition of the material underneath the surface.

Observing Streams & Rivers in Google Earth part of Cutting Edge:Early Career:Previous Workshops:Workshop 2010:Teaching Activities
Students are asked to observe fluvial features on both Earth and Mars in satellite images via Google Earth (as well as online panoramas) and explore processes of erosion and deposition and the relationship of ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
Learn more about this review process.

Formation of the solar system part of Cutting Edge:Visualization:Examples
This assignment or demonstration works really well for me in describing the formation of the solar system, the shapes and changes in planetary orbits, and introduces Milankovitch cycles.

Sun Path: Interactive On-line Mac or PC part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Mathematical and Statistical Models:Mathematical and Statistical Models Examples
Students use SunPath in the yearly mode to investigate seasonal changes in sunrise, sunset, length of day and sun altitude at their own latitude. JAVA activity for Mac or PC. -

Phases of the Moon part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Interactive Lecture Demonstrations:Examples
This exercise has students use a simple physical model of the Earth, sun, and moon to understand why the moon changes phases from the perspective of Earthly observers. -

Impact Craters and Water on Mars part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Undergraduate Research:Examples
Students explore for water on Mars using impact crater morphology. During this lab, students: learn to use the equation writing and graphing capabilities in Microsoft Excel, thendevelop and apply an impact crater depth-diameter relationship in an effort to constrain the depth to a possible water-rich layer beneath one or more portions of the surface of Mars!

GEOLogic: Terrestrial and Jovian Planets part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
In this two-part example, students are given clues about properties about the terrestrial and Jovian planets respectively and asked to match up the planet with the correct equatorial radius, mean orbital velocity, and period of rotation.

Laboratory Activity: The Sun and Climate part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
In this physical geography lab, students examine the relationship between solar altitude, solar declination, and temperature regimes. Using data collected in the field, mathematical relationships, and temperature records available on the Internet, students compare the insolation and climate in their location to that of other locations.

Accessible Solar System on a String part of Teacher Preparation:Resource Collections:Activities
Explore the solar system using your senses.

Investigating dimensions of the solar system part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Planetary data are used to investigate and evaluate the Nebular Hypothesis.

Collaborative Decision Making: NASA's Deep Impact Mission part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Role Playing:Examples
This is collaborative problem solving using data in which students role-play NASA and other personnel determining a good strategy for launching a probe to study a comet. -

Reflection and Absorption of Light part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Students use a microcomputer connected to a light sensor and temperature probe to explore the reflection and absorption of light. -

Sun Spot Analysis part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Introductory students use Excel to graph monthly mean Greenwich sunspot numbers from 1749 to 2004 and perform a spectral analysis of the data using the free software program "Spectra". -

Runaway Greenhouse Effect Exercise part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Role Playing:Examples
This site has a collection of role-playing exercises that provide the students with equations and data to use in collaborative problem-solving. -

Gold Star Panel Review This activity received a gold star rating from a Panel Peer Review.
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Mars Landing Site Selection: An exercise in reading geologic maps and other geologic data sets part of Cutting Edge:Discoveries from Mars:Activities
Students use available Mars data to select the next rover landing sites, given appropriate engineering, geologic and biologic constraints. -

Gallery Walk Questions about the Solar System 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 the solar system. The questions are organized according to the ...

MER (Mars Exploration Rover ) Landing Site Selection part of Cutting Edge:Discoveries from Mars:Activities
Via a jigsaw role-playing exercise in which students become geologists, astrobiologists and engineers, real data and available constrains are used to identify landing sites for the MER rovers. A debate format is ...

Using Lava Flows & Volcanic Structures on Mars to Introduce the Concept of Relative Dating in Introductory Courses part of Cutting Edge:Discoveries from Mars:Activities
To compare bodies of rocks in the same region and determine the sequence of events that led to the formation of these rocks, geologists use a few simple rules of observation to help determine the relative ages of ...

Mars Hydrologic Environments part of Cutting Edge:Discoveries from Mars:Activities
This activity examines the nature of streams and basins at three locations on Mars. Originally meant for users with access to ArcGIS, the exercise can also be used in introductory geology courses using images ...