Teaching Activities

These teaching activities have been submitted by faculty teaching in the lower-division at a variety of institutions. They showcase examples of research experiences or provide practice with individual pieces of the research process.


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Geology of Yosemite Valley
Nicolas Barth, University of California-Riverside
This is a four-part module designed to be flexible in duration and student grade-level. (1) Geology of Yosemite Valley Virtual Field Trip. A 43-stop web-based Google Earth tour with embedded views, hyperlinked ...

Online Field Experience Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the Teaching with Online Field Experiences Exemplary collection
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Lesson 3: The Value of a Water Footprint (High School)
Kai Olson-Sawyer, GRACE Communications Foundation
Session 1 of this lesson begins with a quick activity to get students thinking about their direct and virtual water use. It introduces a few new ideas for virtual water use that may surprise students, including the ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Using concept sketches for field trip wrap-up
Barb Tewksbury, Hamilton College
This is a post-field trip assignment in a structural geology course. Students create a set of concept sketches, with a short introduction, to illustrate the structural features and geologic history of the area, ...

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Baseflow recession
Les Hasbargen, SUNY College at Oneonta
This baseflow recession exercise will help students build skills in analyzing time series data in a spreadsheet. It should also open their eyes to the variation in streamflow, both at a single location over a year, ...

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Base Isolation for Earthquake Resistance
Larry Braile (Purdue University) and TOTLE (Teachers on the Leading Edge) Project
This document includes two activities related to earthquake base isolation. Learners explore earthquake hazards and damage to buildings by constructing model buildings and subjecting the buildings to ground vibration (shaking similar to earthquake vibrations) on a small shake table. Base isolation a powerful tool for earthquake engineering. It is meant to enable a building to survive a potentially devastating seismic impact through a proper initial design or subsequent modifications. The buildings are constructed by two- or three-person learner teams.

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Alaska Earthquake Hazard Inventory & Mitigation Planning
Bonnie Magura (Portland Public Schools), CEETEP (Cascadia EarthScope Earthquake and Tsunami Education Program), and ANGLE Project
In this two-part activity, students/participants first: - Complete a Hazard Inventory for their city or area of interest in the event of a magnitude 7 or larger earthquake and tsunami. - Identify what critical structures and infrastructure will be affected. Then: - Write a summary statement assessing strengths and vulnerabilities of essential services or infrastructure. - Propose actions for mitigating vulnerabilities. - Create an Action Plan to address identified needs.

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Build a Better Wall
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) and CEETEP (Cascadia EarthScope Earthquake and Tsunami Education Program). Improvements by ShakeAlert.
How can we design buildings to withstand an earthquake? This activity uses simple materials and gives learners a chance to experiment with structures that can withstand an earthquake. Two optional activities explore building damage by subjecting models to ground vibration on a small shake table.

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Tsunami Vertical Evacuation Structures (TVES)
Bonnie Magura (Portland Public Schools), Roger Groom (Mt Tabor Middle School), and CEETEP (Cascadia EarthScope Earthquake and Tsunami Education Program)
Students learn about tsunami vertical evacuation structures (TVES) as a viable solution for communities with high ground too far away for rapid evacuation. Students then apply basic design principles for TVES and make their own scale model that they think would fit will in their target community. Activity has great scope for both technical and creative design as well as practical application of math skills. Examples are from the Pacific Northwest, USA's most tsunami-vulnerable communities away from high ground, but it could be adapted to any region with similar vulnerability.

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Student-Generated Earth Science Podcasts for a Community Partner
Laura Guertin, Penn State Brandywine
A semester-long audio recording project, defined by the needs of a community organization, engages students in not only learning new content but sharing their new knowledge beyond classroom walls (and beyond the ...

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Florida River Project - individual and group research project
Kim Hannula, Fort Lewis College
The Florida River Project is a semester-long project involving (1) an individual project in which students pose a scientific question and use existing data to test their hypothesis, and (2) a group project in which ...

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