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Earth structures, processes, and history

By Mary Bigelow

Posted on 2012-12-24

It’s not hard to get students interested in earth science. They can  see the value of learning about the weather and climate, soil, water, tides, volcanoes, earthquakes. The featured articles this month highlight the  processes that are all around us and affect our everyday lives.

The hands-on activities described in Explorations of Our Frozen Planet focuses on the cryosphere (parts of the Earth system where temperatures are below -17.7C for at least part of the year. [SciLinks: Snowflakes, Glaciers, Polar Climates]

Understanding Earth’s Albedo Effect has suggestions for a hands-on lesson to study the concept. The photographs and examples of student work are very helpful. [SciLinks: Albedo]

The baking soda/vinegar demo is fine to study chemical reactions, but not accurate for volcanoes! Using a Desktop Explosive Volcano Model to Explore Eruptions provide a better way to model how eruptions occur and how materials are ejected. The authors include references and comparisons to volcanic activity in Hawaii (and since I’m traveling there next month I was eager to read this!). [SciLinks: Volcanic Eruptions, Volcanoes, Volcanic Zones]

Making Sense of Dinosaur Tracks simulates the work of paleontologists in examining a fossil site. The authors include many suggestions and graphic organizers to help students focus their observations and inferences. [SciLinks: Comparing Dinosaurs, Dinosaur Extinction]

Investigating the Mercalli Intensity Scale Through “Lived Experience” shows students how to supplement the Richter scale with additional observations about the physical destruction of an earthquake. The article includes a version of the Mercalli intensity scale students can use in simulations. [SciLinks: Earthquake Measurement, What is an Earthquake?]

Who hasn’t spent time gazing at clouds? Clear Skies Ahead takes cloud-gazing a little further with suggestions for helping students learn how to identify clouds using their characteristics. [SciLinks: Clouds] You might also be interested in the citizen science S’COOL project, in which students report their cloud observations to NASA.

Some students seem to be able to see the big picture and the interrelationships between events. Connecting Earth Systems has ideas to help students develop a holistic understanding of the earth systems. The graphic organizer and guiding questions would be very helpful.

Investigating Future Climate Scenarios has a scenario in which students examine data related to sea level rise. With the recent severe storms, this is a relevant topic. [SciLinks: Sea Level Change]

Using Cookie Dough to Teach the Layers shows an engaging activity for students to create a model. [SciLinks: Layers of the Earth]

Check out the Connections for this issue (December 2012). Even if the article does not quite fit with your lesson agenda, this resource has ideas for handouts, background information sheets, data sheets, rubrics, etc.

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