Classroom Activities

These classroom and lab activities use data, simulations or modeling to teach geoscience topics. Examples include the use of model output, chemical analyses, remote sensing data, interactive data tools, or large databases.

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Volcano Monitoring with GPS: Westdahl Volcano Alaska part of EarthScope ANGLE:Educational Materials:Activities
Learners use graphs of GPS position data to determine how the shape of Westdahl Volcano, Alaska is changing. If the flanks of a volcano swell or recede, it is a potential indication of magma movement and changing ...

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Human Wave: Modeling P and S Waves part of EarthScope ANGLE:Educational Materials:Activities
Lined up shoulder-to-shoulder, learners are the medium that P and S waves travel through in this simple, but effective demonstration. Once "performed", the principles of P and S waves will not be easily forgotten. This demonstration explores two of the four main ways energy propagates from the hypocenter of an earthquake as P and S seismic waves. The physical nature of the Human Wave demonstration makes it a highly engaging kinesthetic learning activity that helps students grasp, internalize and retain abstract information.

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Seismic Slinky: Modeling P and S waves part of EarthScope ANGLE:Educational Materials:Activities
Students will produce P and S waves using a Slinky© to understand how seismic waves transfer energy as they travel through solids. All types of waves transmit energy, including beach waves, sound, light, and more. When an earthquake occurs it generates four different types of seismic waves. We will focus on two of these: Compressional-P (longitudinal) and shearing-S (transverse) "body waves." These travel through the Earth with distinct particle motion and predictable speed.

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Earthquake Location: With real seismogram data part of EarthScope ANGLE:Educational Materials:Activities
Students use real seismograms to determine the arrival times for P and S waves and use these times to determine the distance of the seismic station from the earthquake. Seismograms from three stations are provided to determine the epicenter using the S – P (S minus P) method. Because real seismograms contain some "noise" with resultant uncertainty in locating arrival times of P and S waves, this activity promotes appreciation for uncertainties in interpretation of real scientific data.

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Base Isolation for Earthquake Resistance part of EarthScope ANGLE:Educational Materials:Activities
This document includes two activities related to earthquake base isolation. Learners explore earthquake hazards and damage to buildings by constructing model buildings and subjecting the buildings to ground vibration (shaking similar to earthquake vibrations) on a small shake table. Base isolation a powerful tool for earthquake engineering. It is meant to enable a building to survive a potentially devastating seismic impact through a proper initial design or subsequent modifications. The buildings are constructed by two- or three-person learner teams.

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Fault Models for Teaching About Plate Tectonics part of EarthScope ANGLE:Educational Materials:Activities
This short interactive activity has learners to manipulate fault blocks to better understand different types of earthquake-generating faults in different tectonic settings--extensional, convergent, and strike-slip. Fault models aid in visualizing and understanding faulting and plate motions because the instructor and their students can manipulate a three-dimensional model for a true hands-on experience.

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Earthquake Machine part of EarthScope ANGLE:Educational Materials:Activities
In this activity, learners work collaboratively in small groups to explore the earthquake cycle by using a physical model. Attention is captured through several short video clips illustrating the awe-inspiring power of ground shaking resulting from earthquakes. To make students' prior knowledge explicit and activate their thinking about the topic of earthquakes, each student writes their definition of an earthquake on a sticky note. Next, through a collaborative process, small groups of students combine their individual definitions to create a consensus definition for an earthquake.

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Seismic Geohazards & Earthquake Hazard Maps: Alaska emphasis part of EarthScope ANGLE:Educational Materials:Activities
Ground shaking is the primary cause of earthquake damage to man-made structures. This exercise combines three related activities on the topic of shaking-induced ground instability: a ground shaking amplification demonstration, a seismic landslides demonstration, and a liquefaction experiment. The amplitude of ground shaking is affected by the type of near-surface rocks and soil. Earthquake ground shaking can cause even gently sloping areas to slide when those same areas would be stable under normal conditions. Liquefaction is a phenomenon where water-saturated sand and silt take on the characteristics of a dense liquid during the intense ground shaking of an earthquake and deform. Includes Alaska and San Francisco examples.

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Build a Better Wall part of EarthScope ANGLE:Educational Materials:Activities
How can we design buildings to withstand an earthquake? This activity uses simple materials and gives learners a chance to experiment with structures that can withstand an earthquake. Two optional activities explore building damage by subjecting models to ground vibration on a small shake table.

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Tsunami Vertical Evacuation Structures (TVES) part of EarthScope ANGLE:Educational Materials:Activities
Students learn about tsunami vertical evacuation structures (TVES) as a viable solution for communities with high ground too far away for rapid evacuation. Students then apply basic design principles for TVES and make their own scale model that they think would fit will in their target community. Activity has great scope for both technical and creative design as well as practical application of math skills. Examples are from the Pacific Northwest, USA's most tsunami-vulnerable communities away from high ground, but it could be adapted to any region with similar vulnerability.

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Unit 2.1: Geodetic survey of an outcrop for road cut design part of Analyzing High Resolution Topography with TLS and SfM
This unit offers an alternative application for high-resolution topographic data from an outcrop. Using engineering geology methods and data collection from TLS and/or SfM, students design safe "road ...

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Unit 2: Kinematic GPS/GNSS Methods part of High Precision Positioning with Static and Kinematic GPS
The application of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) in the earth sciences has become commonplace. GNSS data can be collected rapidly and compared in common reference frames. Real-time kinematic (RTK) GNSS ...

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Unit 2.1: Measuring Topography with Kinematic GPS/GNSS part of High Precision Positioning with Static and Kinematic GPS
Kinematic GNSS surveys can provide a rapid means of collecting widely distributed, high-precision topographic data. The advantages of this technique over optical instruments such as a total station are that it only ...

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Unit 2.2: Change Detection with Kinematic GPS/GNSS part of High Precision Positioning with Static and Kinematic GPS
Though it may be difficult to perceive, landscapes are constantly changing form and position. High-precision GNSS is one of a handful of techniques capable of quantifying these changes and is a key component of ...

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Unit 3: Static GPS/GNSS Methods part of High Precision Positioning with Static and Kinematic GPS
The application of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) in the earth sciences has become commonplace. GNSS data can produce high-accuracy, high-resolution measurements in common reference frames. Static GNSS ...

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Unit 1: GPS/GNSS Fundamentals part of High Precision Positioning with Static and Kinematic GPS
The constellations of satellites orbiting our planet enable high-precision positioning not just for consumer or survey applications but also for geoscience research such as detecting plate motions, landslide ...

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Module 9: Climate Change part of Future of Food
Module 9 is dedicated to climate change and explores the role that agriculture plays in human-induced climate change and the impacts that climate change may have on agriculture. In addition, adaptation strategies ...

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Unit 5: Mitigating future disasters: developing a mass-wasting hazard map part of Surface Process Hazards
This unit serves as the summative assessment of the Surface Process Hazards module. In September 2013, the Boulder area of Colorado experienced an extreme rain event that led to mass wasting in many areas. This has ...

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Unit 2: Reading the landscape part of Surface Process Hazards
How do geologic, hydrologic, biologic, and built-landscape features manifest themselves on maps? In this unit, students will use topographic maps, hillshade maps, and aerial imagery to learn to recognize a variety ...

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Unit 3: Understanding landslide factors part of Surface Process Hazards
How do slope characteristics and magnitude of forces dictate whether or not a slope will fail? Can environmental and built characteristics change the magnitude of these forces? In this unit, students qualitatively ...

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