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Teaching Activities

These teaching activities have been designed with the aim of helping develop students' quantitative skills, literacy, or reasoning. To search by a specific discipline, use the 'Refine the Results' links on the right.


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Mid-level spreadsheeting and complex modeling of real-world scarp evolution
William Locke, Montana State University-Bozeman
This exercise is a second or familiarization exercise in spreadsheeting, but is also a mathematical model for slope evolution. It uses the concept of "erosivity" (generally, the relative ratio of driving and resisting forces) and slope angle to reshape an initial topography. Finally, it asks the students themselves to come up with a real-world situation worth modeling.

An Assessment of Hillslope Stability Using the Factor of Safety
Laura Moore, Oberlin College
In this homework assignment students are asked to consider the balance of forces on a hill slope using the Factor of Safety.

Using Excel to plot numerical and analytical forms of the diffusion equation
Anne Lightbody, UNH
This computer-based assignment forces students to compare and contrast integral and differential forms of the conservation of mass equation, as well as analytical and numerical approaches to solution. Students are ...

Exercise 8: Using LiDAR and GPS data to model the water table in ArcScene
Barb Tewksbury, Hamilton College
Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College Tutorial for using the new LiDAR tools (LAS dataset and LAS toolbar) in ArcGIS 10.1 (Acrobat (PDF) 13.8MB Nov6 13). Same LiDAR Tutorial as a Word doc (Microsoft Word ...

Northridge: A Case Study of an Urban Earthquake
Michael Mayhew, National Science Foundation;
Michael Mayhew and Michelle Hall, Science Education Solutions Summary The 1994 Northridge Earthquake Case Study explores the mystery of how such a major fault could have been missed within a tectonic basin that is ...

Comparing Carbon Calculators
Mark McCaffrey, National Center for Science Education
Carbon calculators, no matter how well intended as tools to help measure energy footprints, tend to be black boxes and can produce wildly different results, depending on the calculations used to weigh various ...

Accessing Streamflow Data via the Worldwide Web
John Pitlick, University of Colorado at Boulder
The objectives of this exercise are to (a) use the worldwide web to access hydrologic data, and (b) compare precipitation/runoff characteristics in different regions of the USA.

Roping Geologic Time
Randall Richardson, The University of Arizona
After having talked about the geologic time scale, I ask for two volunteers from the class to hold a rope that is 50 feet long. I say that one end is the beginning of the Earth (4.6 billion years ago), and the other is today. I then give out 16 clothes pins and ask various students to put a cloths pin on the 'time line' at various 'geologic events'. Throughout the activity I have a quiz going on where the students calculate percentages of Earth History for major geologic events, and compare it to their own ages. On their time scale, the dinosaurs died only about two 'months' ago! The exercise is very effective at letting them get a sense of how long geologic time is, and how 'recently' some major geologic events happened when you consider a time scale that is the age of the earth.

How Many Is A Million?
Roger Steinberg, Del Mar College
Roger Steinberg, Department of Natural Sciences, Del Mar College Description To help students visualize the immensity of geologic time, or even the immensity of just one million years, I have created a very large ...

How Do We Estimate Magma Viscosity?
chuck connor
SSAC Physical Volcanology module. Students build a spreadsheet to examine how magma viscosity varies with temperature, fraction of crystals, and water content using the non-Arrhenian VFT model.



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