EarthLabs for Educators > Climate Detectives > Lab 2: Coring Is Not Boring!

Lab 2: Coring Is Not Boring!


The lab activity was developed by Jeff Lockwood of TERC and Alison Mote of the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders for the EarthLabs project.

Summary and Learning Objectives

Students build a model sediment core drill, then use it to take core samples from layers of PlayDoh.

After completing this Lab, students will be able to:

- What is the IODP is and what role does it play in helping us understand our planet's history?

- What JOIDES Resolution instruments and technologies allow scientists to collect data and extract relevant data from the sediment cores and bore holes?

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Activity Overview and Teaching Materials

Detailed overview of what students will do in each lab activity, how long it will take, and what materials are required to complete the lab.

In Part A: Building a Model Core Drill - In Part A, students use the engineering design process to build and test a model coring drill capable of penetrating several sediment layers represented by different colors of PlayDoh. Their goal is to recover a core sample from a model of the ocean floor composed of different layers of clay.

Materials for the Drill (per group)

  • 30 to 40 popsicle sticks
  • 6 - 10 small binder clamps
  • Spool of thread
  • 6 clear straws (Note: sturdier straws work better see Tervis Clear Straight Straws)
  • Transparent tape
  • Rubber bands
  • Materials for the "Sediment beds"

  • 6 containers of PlayDoh (3 different colors) or similar colored clay material
  • About half a cup of white flour
  • About a cup of sand (any variety)
  • A baking dish or aluminum roasting pan
  • A grid on a piece of paper (See Teacher Notes)
  • Some fireplace ash or similar material
  • Time Estimate = 60 minutes
  • Printable Materials

    Download and print files needed for each lab activity, including images, data tables, and Stop and Think questions.

    To download one of the PDF or Word files below, right-click (control-click on a Mac) the link and choose "Save File As" or "Save Link As."
    • Lab 2 Stop and Think Questions (
      PDF


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      ) (Word (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 47kB Jul2 14)); Suggested Answers (
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    Teaching Notes and Tips

    What you need to prepare ahead of time, and general recommendations for classroom implementation, as well as guidelines and facilitation tips for leading class discussions.

    Part A: Building a Model Core Drill

    Build the test area/bed of sediment area ahead of time.

    1. Any kind of aluminum baking pan (or cover) will serve as the base for the model.

    a. Draw a grid on a piece of paper with numbers and letters so students can identify where their test cores were taken. Tape it into the test box.

    b. Sprinkle a little white flour on the bottom of the pan. This will prevent the PlayDoh from sticking to the pan when students take a core sample.

    c. For the bottom layer, use two cans of one color of PlayDoh. Spread it into a layer and place it on top of the paper grid. NOTE: If you don't add ash to the second layer in the next step, these layers will peel apart after you're done testing so you can reuse the PlayDoh.


    d. Sprinkle a little flour on the first layer. Then take a different color PlayDoh and make a lens of material (varying thickness) and place it on the first layer. Optional: Add a layer of ash in a different part of the layer.


    e. Sprinkle a little flour on the lens and the cover both layers completely with a different color PlayDoh, carefully covering the layers below.

    f. Add a thin layer of sand on top of the PlayDoh to simulate the appearance of the ocean bottom.

    g. Mark coring sites directly on the PlayDoh to give students a target to drop their drills. They will drop them from a height of one foot above the "ocean floor." Or, have students mark where they have drilled into the deposits and then have them compare their cores. But, trying to hit a small target with a drill might bring home the extreme difficulty of engineering the sending a pipe through a mile of water to drill a 1000 ft. hole without changing its position at all!


    Building a Coring Device

    4. Introduce the Challenge – The challenge is to: Build a coring device that you can drop over a distance of at least a foot to take a core sample of at least two layers of sediment, i.e. PlayDoh.

    5. Explain to students that they will be building a model coring device that mimics some of the aspects of the drill on the JOIDES Resolution. Show the students the materials they will work with and describe the challenge for the day. Explain that they will investigate a series of sites in an area of ocean floor sediments that will be modeled by different layers of PlayDoh. You may want to post the graphic at the end of this document to emphasize the phases of the engineering design process. Go over it with students.

    6. Show students the completed ocean floor model testing area.

    Brainstorm and Design

    7. Ask a few questions to get students thinking about the specific things they can do to build a coring device:

  • What are the two main parts of the drilling apparatus that need to be built? (a frame that surrounds the moon pool and the drill string with drill bit that passes through it and descends to the ocean floor)

    · Which of the materials could be used to take a core sample in PlayDoh? (Demonstrate taking a core sample using a single straw and one layer of PlayDoh.)

    · What will you use to increase the force of impact of the drill on the PlayDoh so it will penetrate all the layers? (additional PlayDoh)

    · How will you control the path of the drill without handling the straw(s) themselves? (Attach some string to lower the drill string through the moon pool frame.)

    Build the device

    8. Give student 20 minutes or so to come up with a design and build it. If you think it necessary, show the example device pictured below.




    Test, Evaluate, and Redesign

    9. When students are finished building, give them a can of PlayDoh and let them test their coring devices. They should make a few layers and then drop their coring device from a foot above the clay. Many students will need to revise their designs and add weight or other wise change the configuration or structure of their models.

    10. Then let groups have a go at the prepared test area (ocean floor model) you prepared earlier. It might be fun to give groups different targets, either by circling drill sites or by giving them a specific letter-number target on the grid.

    · Give them a copy of the grid used in the test area or make one large one for groups to record their data on.

    · Have each group pinpoint where on the grid they made their core.

    · Have them write the colors of the layers found in their cores.

    · As a group, have them trace the outline of the lens of green PlayDoh (or whatever color you use). This method parallels how geologists might quantify the size and extent of ore deposits or other types of formations.

    11. If you're going to do the Going Further, you might want to go for targets as close to the center line as possible across the entire test area. (See diagram below)

    Going Further

    12. If you ask students to take a series of cores across the test area, students could measure the distance beginning from the right edge to each core, and measure the thickness of each sediment layer, and draw a cross section of the model to reveal the size and extent of the layers (and lens).


    Wrap Up: Ask students how is their model of a drill is similar to the actual way cores are obtained on the Joides Resolution. How is it different?

  • Student Notebooks

    Suggestions for how to use Student Notebooks for Lab 2.

    The following items are suggestions for inclusion in optional printed student notebooks. The materials are linked in the Printable Materials section, above.
    • Key Questions listed in introduction to lab
    • Stop and Think questions
    • Sketch possible designs of the model drill
    • Produce a first draft of the graph in the Going Further section

    Assessment

    There are several options for assessment of student understanding of material introduced in this lab. Choose from the following list, or create your own.

  • Assessment Options:
    1. Assess student understanding of topics addressed in this investigation by grading their responses to the Stop and Think questions.
    2. Written Test for Lab 2 (
      PDF


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      )(
      Word


      This file is only accessible to verified educators. If you would like access to this file, please enter your email address below. If you are new to the site, you will be asked to complete a short request form. If you have already been verified by the EarthLabs project, you will be taken directly to the file download page.

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      Suggested Answers


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  • Science Standards

    Lab 2 supports the following Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):

    Science and Engineering Practices

    2. Developing and Using Models

    3. Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

    4. Analyzing and Interpreting Data

    6. Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

    8. Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

    Cross Cutting Concepts

    1. Patterns

    2. Cause and Effect

    3. Scale, Proportion, and Quantity

    4. Systems and Systems Models

    6. Structure and Function

    An example of how students engage with the standards:


    Go to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

    Additional Resources

    Explore background information and content extensions related to Lab 2.

    Background Information

    Content Extension

    • An alternate activity from Deep Earth Academy in which student teams test 3 different drilling tools on a variety of ocean bottom substrates. A "Bit" of Engineering