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Activity Browse

Browse this collection of activities that all incorporate teaching with data. Activities have been submitted via a number of projects.


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The Heat is On: Understanding Local Climate Change
Dan Zalles, SRI International
Students draw conclusions about the extent to which multiple decades of temperature data about Phoenix suggest that a shift in local climate is taking place as opposed to exhibiting nothing more than natural ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Marine Oxygen Isotopes and Changes in Global Ice Volume
Ben Laabs, SUNY College at Geneseo
Students explore marine oxygen-isotope data from cores collected by the Ocean Drilling Program. The activity gives students access to real paleoclimate data, develops their skills in organizing and graphing data, ...

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.

Coke vs. Pepsi Taste Test: Experiments and Inference about Cause
This lesson plan and activity are based on material from the NSF-funded AIMS Project (Garfield, delMas and Zieffler, 2007). For more information contact Joan Garfield at
The Coke vs. Pepsi Taste Test Challenge has students design and carry out an experiment to determine whether or not students are able to correctly identify two brands of cola in a blind taste test. In the first ...

Reese's Pieces Activity: Sampling from a Population
This activity is based on an adaptation by Joan Garfield and Dani Ben-Zvi of an activity from Rossman and Chance (2000), Workshop Statistics: Discovery with Data, 2nd Edition.
This activity uses simulation to help students understand sampling variability and reason about whether a particular samples result is unusual, given a particular hypothesis. By using first candies, then a web applet, and varying sample size, students learn that larger samples give more stable and better estimates of a population parameter and develop an appreciation for factors affecting sampling variability.

Simulating the Effect of Sample Size on the Sampling Distribution of the Mean
David Lane, Rice University
A java applet that simulates the sampling distribution of the mean. It allows students to explore the effect of sample size.

Virtual Photoelectric Lab
This page authored by Terry Bradfield, based on a simulation authored by Angel Franco Garcia. The original activity (in Spanish) is located at:
This is a virtual lab activity on the photoelectric effect based on a Java applet simulation of the experiment.

Reasons for the Seasons
Jeff Thomas, Central Connecticut State University
The inquiry method and meteorological and astronomical online data can be used to elicit the inconsistencies of students' naïve ideas about the "real" reasons for the seasons. The first phase of this two-part investigation uses online meteorological data to identify factors that might explain differences of seasonal temperatures among cities These factors are used to hypothesize why differences of seasonal temperatures occur among cities. During the second phase, the variables and hypotheses that were previously identified in part one are used to design and conduct an inquiry-oriented investigation. Astronomical data is used as part of the investigation to "test" students' hypotheses— conclusions are drawn then communicated.

Arctic Climate Curriculum, Activity 3: Exploring Arctic Climate Data
Karin Kirk, Independent Educational Consultant; Anne Gold, University of Colorado at Boulder
Students dig into authentic Arctic climate data to unravel some causes and effects related to the seasonal melting of the snowpack. In particular, students learn about albedo and its relationship to snowmelt. This ...

Arctic Climate Curriculum, Activity 2: Do you really want to visit the Arctic?
Karin Kirk, Independent Educational Consultant
This jigsaw activity is designed for students to become familiar with several datasets of Arctic weather data, collected in Eureka on Ellesmere Island. Students join a role-playing activity to read and interpret ...

Sports Franchise Simulation
Betty Blecha, San Francisco State University
A Sports Franchise Simulation, modeled after the card game War, lets students run their own sports franchise. While the goal of the simulation is to teach students several microeconomics concepts taught in a ...

Shift in life expectancy
Holly Partridge
Determining the shift in expected life span over a century and the social and environmental impact

Arctic Climate Curriculum, Activity 1: Exploring the Arctic
Karin Kirk, Independent Educational Consultant; Anne Gold, University of Colorado at Boulder
This activity introduces students to the Arctic, including different definitions of the Arctic and exploration of the Arctic environment and Arctic people. Students set out on a virtual exploration of the ...

By Monica Bruckner, Montana State University; Based on the Bioinformatics Exercise by Seth Bordenstein.
This exercise contains two interrelated modules that introduce students to modern biological techniques in the area of Bioinformatics, which is the application of computer technology to the management of biological information. The need for Bioinformatics has arisen from the recent explosion of publicly available genomic information, such as that resulting from the Human Genome Project.

Conservation of energy of while rolling down a hill
Peter Bohacek
Students analyze video clips of kids rolling down a hill on skates, scooters, and bikes to determine whether mechanical energy is conserved.

Measuring the coefficient of friction of a skater on ice
Peter Bohacek
Students use video analysis of ice skaters gliding across the ice to determine the coefficient of friction between the skates and the ice. Materials include instructions and six videos that can be used for analysis.

Conservation of energy of a rollercoaster using high speed video
Peter Bohacek
A high speed video clip of a roller coaster is used as an example of conservation of mechanical energy. Student use the video to determine whether mechanical energy is conserved while the roller coaster rolls up, and then back down a hil.

Measuring velocity of objects using video clips
Peter Bohacek
Students learn to determine the velocity of moving objects by doing simple analysis of video clips.

Analysis of simple harmonic oscillator in a single video clip
Peter Bohacek
One video clip, with embedded graphs, can be used to help students understand the mathematical relationships that describe simple harmonic motion.

Using Properties to Identify Ionic and Molecular Compounds
Tamara Ellsworth, Parkers Prairie High School, Parkers Prairie, MN, based on a lab for pre-ap chemistry at the westlake high school website.
An inquiry activity for students to test physical properties of several compounds to analyze data and determine if the compound is ionic or covalent. This is ideal for an introduction to ionic and molecular compound nomenclature.

Introductory Concepts in Soil Chemistry
J McClelland
This is an introductory lab for Environmental Science, investigating the bulk density of soil and water holding capacity.

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