Browse examples for Teaching the Process of Science


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Making Community Connections to Co-learn about Earthquakes
Many people live in regions prone to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, but the hazards and risks inherent in our communities may be very different. Making connections with learners from another location is a great way to share knowledge and practice science communication skills. Video conferencing applications like Zoom and Skype make it possible to connect with learners anywhere in the world. This activity provides a simple protocol, and a form for submitting a request to connect with a classroom teacher in Anchorage, Alaska.

Exploring Tectonic Motions with GPS
Using a map showing the horizontal velocities of GPS stations in the Plate Boundary Observatory and other GPS networks in Alaska and Western United States, students are able to describe the motions in different regions by interpreting the vectors resulting from long-term high-precision Global Positioning System (GPS) data. Show more information on NGSS alignment Hide NGSS ALIGNMENT Disciplinary Core Ideas History of Earth: HS-ESS1-5 Earth' Systems: MS-ESS2-2 Earth and Human Activity: MS-ESS3-2, HS-ESS3-1 Science and Engineering Practices 4. Analyzing and Interpreting Data 5. Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking 6. Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions Crosscutting Concepts 4. Systems and System Models 7. Stability and Change

Volcano Monitoring with GPS: Westdahl Volcano Alaska
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 ...

How Do We Know Where an Earthquake Originated?
Students use real seismograms to determine the arrival times for P and S waves and use these times to determine the distance of the seismic station from the earthquake. Seismograms from three stations are provided to determine the epicenter using the S – P (S minus P) method. Because real seismograms contain some "noise" with resultant uncertainty in locating arrival times of P and S waves, this activity promotes appreciation for uncertainties in interpretation of real scientific data.

Building Shaking —Variations of the BOSS Model
Building Oscillation Seismic Simulation, or BOSS, is an opportunity for learners to explore the phenomenon of resonance for different building heights while performing a scientific experiment that employs mathematical skills. They experience how structures behave dynamically during an earthquake.

Base Isolation for Earthquake Resistance
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.

Alaska GPS Analysis of Plate Tectonics and Earthquakes
This activity introduces students to high precision GPS as it is used in geoscience research. Students build "gumdrop" GPS units and study data from three Alaska GPS stations from the Plate Boundary Observatory network. They learn how Alaska's south central region is "locked and loading" as the Pacific Plate pushes into North America and builds up energy that will be released in the future in other earthquakes such as the 1964 Alaska earthquake.

World Map of Plate Boundaries
The plate tectonics mapping activity allows students to easily begin to identify basic tectonic processes on a global scale. As students become aware of plate movements, they begin to identify patterns that set the stage for deeper understanding of a very complex topic. The activity uses a simple "Where's Waldo" approach to identify tectonic symbols on a laminated World Plate Tectonic map.

Cupcake Geology: Interpreting Core Samples
This activity helps students understand how geoscientists study the Earth below our feet through drilling. Using a large straw as a "drill", students collect samples through different parts of the specially layered cupcake and keep a "log" of the drill core. By defining different colored cake and filling, they can reconstruct what the interior of the cupcake may look like. Students gain an appreciation for the challenges of determining a plausible geologic interpretation with limited data.

Investigating Factors That Affect Tsunami Inundation
Learners modify elements of a tsunami wave tank to investigate the affect that near-coast bathymetry (submarine topography) and coastal landforms have on how far a tsunami can travel inland. Damaging tsunami are most commonly produced by subduction zone earthquakes, such as those that occur in Alaska.