Teaching Activities

These teaching activities have been submitted via a number of projects including On the Cutting Edge and may be useful in teaching Environmental Geology.


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Paleoclimate and Ocean Biogeochemistry
Allison Jacobel, Middlebury College
This module guides students through an examination of how surface ocean productivity relates to global climate on glacial-interglacial timescales and how the availability of ocean nutrients can be correlated with ...

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Exploring California's Plate Motion and Deformation with GPS | Lessons on Plate Tectonics
Shelley Olds, EarthScope Consortium
Students analyze data to study the motion of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. From GPS data, students detect relative motion between the plates in the San Andreas fault zone--with and without earthquakes. To get to that discovery, they use physical models to understand the architecture of GPS, from satellites to sensitive stations on the ground. They learn to interpret time series data collected by stations (in the spreading regime of Iceland), to cast data as horizontal north-south and east-west vectors, and to add those vectors head-to-tail.Students then apply their skills and understanding to data in the context of the strike-slip fault zone of a transform plate boundary. They interpret time series plots from an earthquake in Parkfield, CA to calculate the resulting slip on the fault and (optionally) the earthquake's magnitude.

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Reef Builders through Time
Peg Yacobucci, Bowling Green State University-Main Campus
Students will use the Paleobiology Database (PBDB) to explore the history of reef-building animals through time. They will document diversity and extinction patterns through time for seven reef-building marine ...

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Converging Tectonic Plates Demonstration
Shelley Olds, EarthScope Consortium
During this demo, participants use springs and a map of the Pacific Northwest with GPS vectors to investigate the stresses and surface expression of subduction zones, specifically the Juan de Fuca plate diving beneath the North American plate.

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Population & Community Ecology
Cascade Sorte, University of California-Irvine
Students in a Population and Community Ecology class participate in coastal marine research focused on understanding factors determining population sizes and community interactions, particularly in the context of species that appear to be shifting their ranges with climate change. Students participate in all aspects of the research from making observations and collecting data in the field to defining questions, stating hypothesis, designing and completing statistical analysis, and interpreting and presenting results. The outcomes are a research proposal, research paper, and poster presentation. All are intended to be at a level appropriate for use as a writing sample or presentation at undergraduate conferences. Results are incorporated into the ongoing research project led by the course instructor and graduate student teaching assistant.

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Nutrient Loading Module
This module was initially developed by Castendyk, D.N., T. Meixner, and C.A. Gibson. 6 June 2015. Project EDDIE: Nutrient Loading. Project EDDIE Module 7, Version 1. Module development was supported by NSF DEB 1245707.
Estimating nutrient loads is a critical concept for students studying water quality in a variety of environmental settings. Many STEM/Environmental science students will be asked to assess the impacts of a proposed anthropogenic activities on human water resources and/or ecosystems as part of their future careers. This module engages students in exploring factors contributing to the actual loads of nitrogen that are transmitted down streams. Nitrogen is a key water quality contaminant contributing to surface water quality issues in fresh, salt, and estuarine environments. Students will utilize real-time nitrate data from the US Geological Survey to calculate nitrate loads for several locations and investigate the interplay of concentration and discharge that contributes to calculated loads.

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Climate Change Effects on Lake Temperatures
Cayelan Carey, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ; Kaitlin Farrell, University of Georgia
Climate change is modifying the thermal structure of lakes around the globe. Because it is difficult to predict how lakes will respond to the many different aspects of climate change (e.g., altered temperature, ...

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Plate Tectonics: GPS Data, Boundary Zones, and Earthquake Hazards
Christopher Berg, Orange Coast College; Beth Pratt-Sitaula, Earthscope Consortium; Julie Elliott, Michigan State University
Students work with high precision GPS data to explore how motion near a plate boundary is distributed over a larger region than the boundary line on the map. This allows them to investigate how earthquake hazard ...

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Fault Models for Teaching About Plate Tectonics
Modified from an activity by Larry Braile (Purdue University) by TOTLE (Teachers on the Leading Edge) Project and further improved by ShakeAlert.
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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Volcano Monitoring with GPS: Westdahl Volcano Alaska
Maite Agopian, EarthScope; Beth Pratt-Sitaula, Earthscope Consortium
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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