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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OGGM-Edu Glaciology Lab 1: What Makes a Glacier?
Lizz Ultee, Middlebury College
This is a three-part class or lab activity that challenges students to define what a glacier is, how it differs from other parts of the cryosphere (such as sea ice), and what kinds of glaciers there are in the ...

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Episodic tremor and slip: The Case of the Mystery Earthquakes | Lessons on Plate Tectonics
Shelley Olds, UNAVCO
Earthquakes in western Washington and Oregon are to be expected—the region lies in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Offshore, the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate subducts under the North American plate, from northern California to British Columbia. The region, however, also experiences exotic seismicity— Episodic Tremor and Slip (ETS).In this lesson, your students study seismic and GPS data from the region to recognize a pattern in which unusual tremors--with no surface earthquakes--coincide with jumps of GPS stations. This is ETS. Students model ductile and brittle behavior of the crust with lasagna noodles to understand how properties of materials depend on physical conditions. Finally, they assemble their knowledge of the data and models into an understanding of ETS in subduction zones and its relevance to the millions of residents in Cascadia.

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Visualizing Relationships with Data: Exploring plate boundaries with Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and GPS Data in the Western U.S. & Alaska | Lessons on Plate Tectonics
Shelley Olds, UNAVCO
Learners use the UNAVCO GPS Velocity Viewer, or the included map packet to visualize relationships between earthquakes, volcanoes, and plate boundaries as a jigsaw activity.

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Detecting Cascadia's changing shape with GPS | Lessons on Plate Tectonics
Shelley Olds, UNAVCO
Research-grade Global Positioning Systems (GPS) allow students to deduce that Earth's crust is changing shape in measurable ways. From data gathered by EarthScope's Plate Boundary Observatory, students discover that the Pacific Northwest of the United States and coastal British Columbia — the Cascadia region - are geologically active: tectonic plates move and collide; they shift and buckle; continental crust deforms; regions warp; rocks crumple, bend, and will break.

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Measuring Plate Motion with GPS: Iceland
Shelley Olds, UNAVCO
This lesson teaches middle and high school students to understand the architecture of GPS—from satellites to research quality stations on the ground. This is done with physical models and a presentation. Then students learn to interpret data for the station's position through time ("time series plots"). Students represent time series data as velocity vectors and add the vectors to create a total horizontal velocity vector. They apply their skills to discover that the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is rifting Iceland. They cement and expand their understanding of GPS data with an abstraction using cars and maps. Finally, they explore GPS vectors in the context of global plate tectonics.

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Converging Tectonic Plates Demonstration
Shelley Olds, UNAVCO
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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Frequency of Large Earthquakes
Jennifer Pickering
Using the IRIS Earthquake Browser tool, students gather data to support a claim about how many large (Mw 8+) earthquakes will happen globally each year. This activity provides scaffolded experience downloading data and manipulating data within a spreadsheet.

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Understanding Doppler radar radial velocity fields
Aryeh Drager, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
This activity is designed to help students learn how to interpret Doppler radial velocity radar images with meteorological applications, as well as giving students a chance to practice their spatial skills.

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Bomb Cyclones - They're Explosive!
Jacqui Jenkins-Degan, Marine Technology Program, Cape Fear Community College
Storms can have devastating impacts on coastal communities. Typically, tropical storms like hurricanes get the most attention, but there are other types of storms that occur at more northern latitudes that can be ...

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FutureEarthCast: Voicemails from 50 years in the future
Laura Guertin, Penn State Brandywine
Students are challenged to write a script and record a voicemail that is left 50 years in the future, describing changes that have taken place in the local environment based upon scientifically-accurate information ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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