Students observe the process of convection and then discover how and why it works through a series of hands-on activities in which they explore and build the various concepts that they need to understand in order to fully construct an understanding of the process of convection. The lab activity culminates in the construction of a concept map to explain how and why convection occurs.
Students analyze the geology and geophysics of a simple fabricated flat planet to analyze its tectonics, deepening their understanding of plate tectonics concepts and discovering for themselves some of the more counter-intuitive aspects of the theory of plate tectonics.
In this structural geology activity, students are faced with a problem whose solution requires an understanding of faults. Using inductive reasoning and a set of wood blocks, students discover a general rule about faults and then apply that rule to the specific problem.
Students use a light source, a polystyrene ball, and their bodies to model and explain the causes of eclipses and the phases of the moon, and then determine the direction of the moon's revolution and the period of its rotation.
Students confront their misconceptions about seasonal and latitudinal temperature variations, come to understand the true causes of these phenomena, practice using simple physical models to solve problems, and develop their 3-D visualizations skills.
The moon project is a semester-long research project about the moon; each student explores one of four assigned topics. Over 1-2 months, students make daily naked-eye observations of the moon and construct graphs of given data that will help them discover the concepts relevant to their topic. After working through a topic-specific guided-discovery activity, each student uses that activity to teach his/her topic to three students who had explored the other topics.
Global Atmospheric Circulation
Work in progress... But the student handout is available: Global Atmospheric Circulation (Microsoft Word 257kB Nov30 08)
Altitude of the Moon, and # of Hours it is Up
Work in progress... But the student handout is available: Altitude of the Moon and # of Hours it is Up (Acrobat (PDF) 159kB Nov30 08)