Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
Earth Science Activities and Labs
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Created by Mr. Burrows

New York Instructional Collection at DLESE

About the DLESE New York State Earth Science Instructional Collection

For great materials, visit Steve Kluge's incredible site!


Long Term Projects
(from E.S.P.R.I.T.)

Scientists are rarely able to perform an experiment and obtain meaningful results within a time frame of one or two class periods. The following investigations require an extended period of time. In performing these projects, students should have the opportunity to observe change, gather data, record information, and make conclusions about the world around them. Some students may use this list of viable investigations to generate their own project ideas, but the teacher should approve all projects before they are conducted. Although library research is an important aspect of nearly any scientific inquiry, students are strongly encouraged to make the gathering and analysis their own observations and data the primary emphasis of their long-term projects.

1. Establish communication that will enable you to measure the size of the Earth through a computer link with a number of other schools.

2. Measure the quantity of air-borne particulate pollution at a number of locations. Correlation of your data with wind directions and time of year may also be appropriate. This is a good opportunity to show your skills in drawing isolines.

3. Make a contour map of the area around your home. (You may want to construct your own surveying instruments.) Show the shape of the land, vegetation, and roads, buildings and other man made features.

4. Set up a rock and mineral exchange with a friend in a different geological area. Classify your samples and tell about how they formed. Your teacher can help you in identifying the samples.

5. Investigate the latitude, longitude and depths of earthquake foci obtained from current data. Students can place pins on a map to identify geologically active zones of the Earth.

6. Document changes in a portion of a shoreline or stream bank for several months. Correlate changes with weather conditions, storms, human activities, etc.

7. Measure and record the rate of erosion of a hill slope, road-cut, or another unstable land feature. Erosion may be correlated with rainfall, human activity, etc.

8. Sample sediments being deposited in the same place in an active stream or lake for several months. Correlate your data with changes in the speed of the water.

9. Use rock samples, fossils, photographs and other resources to document the local geologic history.

10. Take weather readings daily. Correlate temperature, barometric pressure, and rainfall.

11. Construct a solar energy collector. Demonstrate how much energy you can collect, or use the energy for some useful purpose, such as cooking something or heating water. Plan a live demonstration for your teacher.

12. Measure stream discharge daily or weekly. Correlate changes with rainfall or other factors.

13. Relate the temperature of the air to the temperature one meter underground. You will need to dig a hole one meter deep and bury a plastic tube in the hole. Be sure to keep the tube plugged so that air cannot circulate within the tube when you are not taking measurements.

14. Use a thermometer to record the air and water temperatures in a pond or stream. Investigate the relationships between these temperatures on a daily cycle, as well as long term data for several months.

15. Measure the maximum height of the tides at a nearby location for a month. Graph this change and correlate it with the relative positions of the Earth, sun and moon.

16. Observe and record the exact position of sunrise or sunset weekly for several months. Relate these changing positions to Earth-Sun motions.

17. Construct a scale model of the solar system in three dimensions. You may also want to include appropriate information about each of the planets. Be sure that your model is to specified scale(s).

18. Measure the acidity of rainfall in different weather systems. Correlate changes to changes in wind direction and other factors. Or, measure the acidity of local ponds.

19. Prepare a display to highlight a local pollution problem. Your display could include photographs, newspaper reports, and samples of pollution. The display should be presented in a public area. You should suggest reasonable ways of dealing with this problem.

20. Organize a campaign to help to alleviate a local pollution problem. Your report should tell about what you did, and how it helped to solve this problem.

21. Formulate and justify your own opinion about a controversial current issue such as the safety of nuclear power, or methods of waste disposal. Be sure to look at alternate sides of the issue. You need not agree with arguments on the other side, but you should consider their merit.

22. Utilize a computer application to do something useful in the fields of the Earth sciences.

Tips for Student Projects:

A. Keep the focus narrow. Do something small, but do it very well. Stress quality rather than quantity. A report need not be long to be excellent.

B. The project should involve doing science, not just writing about science. Try to gather original documentation and/or data.

C. New technology will allow the use of equipment and media that were not available in the past. Word processors, computers, and still or video cameras can add to the value of your report.

D. Get an early start. When contacting people or writing for information, allow plenty of time for responses. Some projects will require data collected over a number of months.

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