Teaching Activities

These teaching activities have a strong spatial thinking component. Search the collection to find activities suitable for your classes.



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Glacier Flow Model and Introduction to Monte Carlo Methods
Dan Morgan, Vanderbilt University
The goal of this assignment is for students to recognize that adding some randomization and "noise" to a model yields different results each time we run the model, and we can pull some useful statistics ...

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Impacts of anthropogenic sound on marine mammals
Andrew Fischer, university of tasmania
Marine mammals rely on sound for their daily existence. Therefore, the introduction of anthropogenic noise in the marine environment can have a profound impact on their behavior. Listening to sounds in the ocean is ...

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Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics Project
Dan Burleson, University of Houston-University Park
This activity is a project designed to introduce undergraduate chemical engineering students to chemical engineering thermodynamics in the context of MATLAB. The project requires students to learn concepts they ...

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Using Regression Models to make Predictions
Michelle Isenhour, Naval Postgraduate School
This activity introduces students to prediction and confidence intervals for a simple linear regression model using a MATLAB Live Script. To draw a connection to confidence intervals for an unknown population mean, ...

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Kinetics of Herbicide Photodegradation
Kristi Closser, California State University-Fresno
This lab activity is designed to connect student's knowledge of reaction rates to actual data and an unfamiliar system (photodegradation of phenylurea herbicides in the presence of various catalysts). Students ...

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Igneous Rocks and Triangle Diagrams
Eileen Herrstrom, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This activity takes place in a laboratory setting and requires ~1.5-2 hours to complete. Students observe igneous rock compositions and plot them on triangle diagrams, normalize rock compositions using a ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Exploring Spreadsheets with Microsoft Excel
Eileen Herrstrom, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This activity takes place in a laboratory setting and requires ~1.5-2 hours to complete. Students work with a large set of earthquake data, examine types of charts available in Excel, and use a spreadsheet to ...

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Seafloor Spreading: Bathymetry, Anomalies, and Sediments
Eileen Herrstrom, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This activity takes place in a laboratory setting and requires ~1.5-2 hours to complete. Students study the bathymetry of the South Atlantic, use magnetic reversals to interpret marine magnetic anomalies, and ...

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Feldspar Minerals and Triangle Diagrams
Eileen Herrstrom, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This activity takes place in a laboratory setting and requires ~1.5-2 hours to complete. Students learn how to read a triangle or ternary diagram. They determine physical properties of feldspars and interpret two ...

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Working with State, National, and Global Petroleum Data
Eileen Herrstrom, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This activity takes place in a laboratory setting and requires ~1.5-2 hours to complete. Students work with data on oil production in Illinois, the United States, and the world, creating graphs to interpret data on ...

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Traffic flow model
Morgan Fonley, Alma College
This assignment relates to a traffic flow model. Each problem involves graphing in two and three dimensions and interpreting those graphs.

MATLAB Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the Teaching Computation in the Sciences Using MATLAB Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Fetal Body Composition
Amir Golnabi, Montclair State University
This is a comprehensive and practical project in Calculus for life science majors, which helps students gain a deeper understanding of fundamental concepts of Calculus and enables them to apply those concepts to ...

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Investigating Real and Ideal gases
Kristi Closser, California State University-Fresno
This activity looks at the difference between real and ideal gas laws, emphasizing the connection of the physical properties to equations and graphs. Students first analyze the real gas equation, which should be ...

MATLAB Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the Teaching Computation in the Sciences Using MATLAB Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Introduction to strings and DNA/protein sequence alignments
Benjamin Bratton, Princeton University
This is problem set that helps solidify concepts of computational processing (accessing data, parsing data, visualizing data, using preconstructed tools) and sequence matching, specifically in the context of ...

MATLAB Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the Teaching Computation in the Sciences Using MATLAB Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Simulating Passive Properties of Neurons Using Matlab
Michael Wright, California State University-Sacramento
This lab activity simulates a fundamental concept in cellular neuroscience; namely that all neurons can be modeled as circuits (i.e., the equivalent circuit) composed of resistors and capacitors in parallel. The ...

MATLAB Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the Teaching Computation in the Sciences Using MATLAB Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Cool Roof
Eugene Mahmoud, Mt. San Antonio College
This project is a hands-on, open-ended, collaborative assessment of students' abilities to collect numerical data, and develop mathematical models of naturally occurring phenomena. Students design physical ...

MATLAB Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the Teaching Computation in the Sciences Using MATLAB Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Synthesizing Marine Data Sets using MATLAB
Diane Fribance, Coastal Carolina University
Students use MATLAB to analyze an oceanographic data set collected in an estuary on a class boat trip, and put it into context using time-series data downloaded from online sources. Some basic oceanographic ...

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Climate change and extreme values analysis
Alexandre Martinez, University of California-Irvine
In this activity, we learn where to get climate data (monthly temperature maxima and monthly precipitation maxima) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We learn how to fit a GEV ...

MATLAB Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the Teaching Computation in the Sciences Using MATLAB Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Volcano Monitoring with GPS: Westdahl Volcano Alaska
Maite Agopian, EarthScope; Beth Pratt-Sitaula, UNAVCO
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 ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Rocks are Elastic!! Seeing is Believing
IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology)
This activity helps learners see the elastic properties of rocks by actually bending marble. How rocks respond to stress is a fundamental concept, critical to forming explanatory models in the geosciences (e.g., elastic rebound theory). Whereas learners are likely to have lots of experience with rocks, few will have directly experienced them behaving elastically. As a result of this "missed experience", most learners conceptualize rocks as rigid solids; a concept which generally serves students well in everyday life but impedes learning about particular geologic concepts.

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