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Teaching Activities

These teaching activities have been designed with the aim of helping develop students' quantitative skills, literacy, or reasoning. To search by a specific discipline, use the 'Refine the Results' links on the right.


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Radioactive Decay and Geochronology
Kirsten Menking, Vassar College
Students create a STELLA model of the radioactive decay process.

Using a Mass Balance Model to Understand Carbon Dioxide and its Connection to Global Warming
Bob Mackay, Clark College
Students explore the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past 40 years with an interactive on-line model.

The Modern Atmospheric CO2 Record
Bob Mackay, Clark College
Students compare carbon dioxide (CO2) data from Mauna Loa Observatory, Barrow (Alaska), and the South Pole over the past 40 years to help them better understand what controls atmospheric CO2. -

Investigation: When will there no longer be glaciers in Glacier National Park?
An Investigation Question activity developed by Carol Ormand, Wittenberg University.
Students use historical data on the extent of the Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park to estimate when the glacier will melt completely.

Flood Frequency and Risk Assessment
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Students calculate recurrence intervals for various degrees of flooding based on historical data. Students then do a risk assessment for the surrounding community.

Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: Rate of Lava Flow
Barb Tewksbury, Hamilton College
Question In 1983, an eruption began at Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii that has proved to be the largest and longest-lived eruption since records began in 1823. Lava has poured out of the volcano at an average rate of ...

Understanding Radioactivity in Geology: The Basics of Decay
Christina StringerâUniversity of South Florida, Tampa FL 33620 This activity was developed for Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum . National Science Foundation, DUE 0442629.
PowerPoint module leading students through creation and manipulation of spreadsheet to forward model an example of exponential decayâthe number of remaining unpopped kernels of popcorn in a bag of popping popcorn.

Roping Geologic Time
Randall Richardson, The University of Arizona
After having talked about the geologic time scale, I ask for two volunteers from the class to hold a rope that is 50 feet long. I say that one end is the beginning of the Earth (4.6 billion years ago), and the other is today. I then give out 16 clothes pins and ask various students to put a cloths pin on the 'time line' at various 'geologic events'. Throughout the activity I have a quiz going on where the students calculate percentages of Earth History for major geologic events, and compare it to their own ages. On their time scale, the dinosaurs died only about two 'months' ago! The exercise is very effective at letting them get a sense of how long geologic time is, and how 'recently' some major geologic events happened when you consider a time scale that is the age of the earth.

Northwest Passage
Glenn Richard, SUNY at Stony Brook
An investigation of changes in polar regions using Google Earth.

Carbon Dioxide Exercise
Rebecca Teed, Wright State University-Main Campus
Students work in groups, plotting carbon dioxide concentrations over time on overheads and estimating the rate of change over five years. -



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