In this activity, students examine a photograph of the night sky and answer questions about their observations. The picture, taken by a high school student in upstate New York, offers insight into the Earth's rotation, apparent star motion, the location of Polaris (the North Star), circumpolar constellations, and pointer stars.
Students will complete this survey that determines their personal and household contributions to atmospheric Carbon dioxide by using information about their previous year's consumption. They will understand that Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas produced by the combustion of fossil fuels, and that its production can be minimized by taking personal steps to conserve.
This activity consists of two parts in which students investigate heat transfer by radiation and by conduction. In the first part, students design and conduct an experiment to test the effect of color on an object's ability to radiate energy (heat). In the second part, they investigate the transfer of energy from a hotter object to a cooler one, in this case, containers of hot and cold water. In both experiments, they are required to state a hypothesis, make a list of materials and procedures needed for the experiment, collect and graph data, and state a conclusion. Each experiment is accompanied by a set of analysis and conclusion questions.
In this demonstration, the teacher will use a potato and hydrogen peroxide to generate oxygen in a closed environment. Students can then observe its effects on a burning wooden splint and on burning steel wool. They will understand that a large amount of energy can be released by the process of oxidation. As an extension, the teacher can discuss how the appearance of oxygen (produced by cyanobacteria) in Earth's early atmosphere initially resulted in the formation of large deposits of iron oxide (Banded Iron Formations) and then aided in the evolution of more complex life forms.
Climographs, graphic plots of monthly temperature and precipitation, allow students to see how differences in insolation at various locations affect rates of heating and cooling. In this activity, students use climographs to plot locations using latitude and longitude, calculate annual temperature ranges, and relate unequal rates of heating and cooling to climate variations. They will also construct climographs for two locations in New York, analyze them, and answer questions about their observations.
In this activity, students construct three-dimensional models from terrain information provided by two-dimensional topographic maps. This will allow them to visualize how changes in elevation over a certain distance can be represented on a flat piece of paper that can be folded up and tucked away. Each group is responsible for constructing a model of Mount St. Helens 'before' and 'after', a depression, a stream, and a hill. Discussion questions related to the different representations are also included.
In this activity, students construct a magnetometer. A materials list and instructions are provided.
The relationship between mass, volume, and density is explored using chocolate. The mass and volume of solid chocolate bars, liquid chocolate, and small chocolate pieces are determined and used to compute density for comparison. The activity includes a worksheet that allows students to report their findings and infer density changes as a material goes from solid to liquid to gas.
In this activity, students measure the densities of samples of granite, basalt, peridotite/dunite, and an iron meteorite, which are used as representatives of the various layers of the Earth (crust, mantle, core). The samples are weighed to determine their mass, and the Archimedes Principle is used to determine volume. From these two properties, they calculate density, compare it to accepted values presented in the discussion, and answer questions about their observations.
This lesson provides experience working on a real-life scenario by allowing students the opportunity to use topographic maps to design a hiking trail system based on access from road, range of habitats, and other specified criteria. They will also complete a data sheet and produce an informational brochure.
In this experiment, students explore the diffraction of light into different wavelengths (colors) by using a diffraction grating and shoe box to create and measure a visible spectrum. The concepts of diffraction, electromagnetic waves, wavelength, and the electromagnetic spectrum are introduced. The activity also includes a discussion of red shift, blue shift, and the Doppler effect. Information about solar radiation and the roles of stratospheric and tropospheric ozone is included.
In this activity, students play the roles of "time travel agents" creating an advertisement for a geologic time period which has been assigned to them. They will use the Earth Science Reference Tables (available on the internet) to learn some basic facts about their assigned period. A rubric for assessing student understanding is provided.
This activity uses the free software 'Seismic Eruption' to visualize seismicity and volcanic activity in space and time and to explore the relationship of earthquakes and volcanic activiy to plate tectonics. Students run simulations on the Pacific coasts of South America and California and the mid-oceanic ridge in the Atlantic Ocean, answer questions, and construct a cross-section. A link to download the software is provided.
In this activity, students conduct experiments using an egg and a graduated cylinder filled with liquids of different densities. By observing how different densities affect the egg's position in the cylinder, they can draw important connections to the Earth's lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.
Most orbiting bodies follow a path that is an ellipse. In this activity, students construct 2 ellipses, and examine and measure them to determine some of their fundamental properties. The exercise helps learners make comparisons to planetary orbit eccentricities, and includes guidelines for constructing a scale model of Haley's comet.
In this activity, students critically analyze prior conceptions and textbook visuals of the relative sizes and orbiting distance of the Earth-moon system (and other bodies in our solar system), search out sources for this data, and construct scale models by using balls of various sizes. There are tips for helping learners understand the large scales (i.e., millions rather than thousands) that characterize our solar system, and examples are provided of scaling using different sizes of athletic balls.
In this activity, students investigate how pressure affects the temperature of air and how this relates to the formation of clouds in the troposphere. They will form a cloud in a bottle, find the dew point and relative humidity of air at different places in the school and use a chart to estimate how high that air would have to rise to form a cloud.
In this activity, students use a National Weather Service flood forecast, USGS gauging data, and other reports to estimate the maximum storm discharge from the New River and Wolf Creek, two streams in the Southeast U.S. which experienced flooding in November 2003. Topographic and urban maps are used to predict where flooding would occur and to evaluate strategies for reducing flood risk for the residents of the region.
In this activity, students examine a photo and map of Manhattan, New York, to determine the date the photo was taken. The activity provides opportunities for discussing seasons, equinoxes, and the apparent position of the Sun throughout the year. Links to additional information are embedded in the text.
In this activity, students investigate how the atmosphere changes with altitude. They will obtain atmospheric data for locations of their choosing using online resources, graph it, and examine it to answer questions about changes in temperature, pressure, humidity, and dewpoint with altitude.