Activities for teaching about the Early Earth

This collection of activities contains materials used to teach about earth's history, evolution and extinction, geologic timelines, and methods used to date geologic events. We are seeking teaching materials that address early earth topics. Do you have a favorite teaching activity you'd like to share? Please help us expand this collection by sharing your own teaching materials.

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Geologic Time part of GET Spatial Learning:Teaching Activities
Formative assessment questions using a classroom response system ("clickers") can be used to reveal students' spatial understanding. Students are shown this diagram and instructed to "Click on ...

Modeling Unconformities part of GET Spatial Learning:Teaching Activities
Students make models of various kinds of unconformity: disconformity, angular unconformity, and buttress unconformity. They examine those models from a variety of perspectives and consider how each one appears in ...

Wakemup Pluton part of GET Spatial Learning:Teaching Activities
Students work through a set of questions about a geologic map of an igneous intrusion and surrounding rock units. These questions focus students' attention on the topography, geomorphology, lithology, and ...

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Introduction to Evolution (Historical Geology) part of Teach the Earth:Teaching Activities
This is a guided question note sheet with interactive elements linked within for an online course in Earth History or Historical Geology. NOVA evolution lab is one component, along with other introductory videos ...

Dino Doom part of Teach the Earth:Teaching Activities
This is an online learning experience that transports learners around the world to different locations related to the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event. Students will collect and analyze evidence to ...

3D Model of a Geologic Map part of GET Spatial Learning:Teaching Activities
Students analyze a geologic map of an angular unconformity that truncates a pair of dikes, with some topography. When students have deciphered the map and constructed a cross-section, I show them a Play-Doh model ...

Relative Dating with Art part of Introductory Courses:Activities
This activity asks students to make observations of an artwork and to deduce the sequence of events or processes that occurred during the creation of the piece.

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In-Lecture Story Problems part of Teach the Earth:Teaching Activities
Authors: Dr. Kyle C. Fredrick, Department of Earth Sciences, California University of Pennsylvania (fredrick@calu.edu)Dr. Cailey B. Condit, Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts ...

Relative and Absolute Geologic Time with Maps and Spreadsheets part of Introductory Courses:Activities
This activity takes place in a laboratory setting and takes ~1.5-2 hours to complete. Students apply stratigraphic principles for relative dating and basic equations of isotopic systems for absolute dating and ...

Unit 4: Impacts of Environmental Change on Organisms: Horses part of Changing Biosphere
In this unit, students will gain a deep-time perspective on how life evolves on a dynamic planet. They will use the Equidae (horse family) as a case study to examine the relationship among climate, biomes, and ...

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InTeGrate Developed This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process.
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Unit 1: Introduction to the Geologic Timeline & Mass Extinctions part of Changing Biosphere
In this unit, students will identify mass extinctions as paleontologists have done and recognize and understand the "pull of the recent," that is, the human tendency to know more about events closer to ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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InTeGrate Developed This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process.
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The Pangea Puzzle part of Introductory Courses:Activities
Students learn how to use the Paleobiology Database (PBDB) to produce maps of fossils on the present-day Earth's surface, as well as past continental configurations. They will then use these maps to understand ...

Unit 5: Summative assessment project part of Analyzing High Resolution Topography with TLS and SfM
Unit 5 is the summative assessment for the module. This final exercise takes eight to ten hours. The exercise evaluates students' developed skills in survey design, execution of a geodetic survey, and simple ...

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GETSI Developed This material was developed and reviewed through the GETSI curricular materials development process.
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Geologic time scale hiking tour group project part of Teach the Earth:Teaching Activities
Students work in groups to develop content for am online hiking tour which is matched to the geologic time scale. This project has been used as a semester group work project in an introductory geologic history ...

Unit 3: Geologic Record of Past Climate part of Carbon, Climate, and Energy Resources
Students will be introduced to a few of the different methods used in paleoclimatology, including isotopic ratios as paleotemperature proxies. They will investigate the greenhouse gas connections of two ancient ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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InTeGrate Developed This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process.
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Scaffolding Temporal Reasoning with Geologic Timelines part of Teach the Earth:Teaching Activities
This 30 minute activity engages students in ordering and spacing geologic history events on a meter stick. Students engage in an inquiry cycle, individually first, then with a partner before receiving feedback on ...

Exploring the nature of geoscience using cartoon cards part of Integrate:Workshops and Webinars:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Activities
In this activity, students work in groups to put a set of cartoon cards in order, much in the way that we might assemble a geologic history. The primary goal of the activity is to explore the nature of science in general and the nature of geoscience or historical science specifically, without requiring any content knowledge.

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M & M Decay part of Rates and Time:Teaching Activities
This is a simulation of radioactive decay which illustrates what a half-life is and explains some of the challenges involved with radiometric dating. Pennies or other cheap coins can be substituted for M&Ms if ...

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How Many Is A Million? part of Rates and Time:Visualizations with Teaching Notes
Roger Steinberg, Department of Natural Sciences, Del Mar College 5000 Dots by Computer (Click image to enlarge and download.)

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Determining Earthquake Recurrence Intervals from Trench Logs part of Rates and Time:GSA Activity Posters
Trench logs of the San Andreas Fault at Pallett Creek, CA are the data base for a lab or homework assignment that teaches about relative dating, radiometric dating, fault recurrence intervals and the reasons for uncertainty in predicting geologic phenomena. Students are given a trench log that includes several fault strands and dated stratigraphic horizons. They estimate the times of faulting based on bracketing ages of faulted and unfaulted strata. They compile a table with the faulting events from the trench log and additional events recognized in nearby trenches, then calculate maximum, minimum and average earthquake recurrence intervals for the San Andreas Fault in this area. They conclude by making their own prediction for the timing of the next earthquake.

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