Monday, 30 November 2020

Marie Tharp; a woman scientist in a man's world

The new ELI today is the last of our series about sea floor mapping. 'Marie Tharp: ‘The valley will be coming up soon’. Bruce Heezen: ‘What valley?’ A woman scientist in a man’s world – what was it like?'

This activity tells the amazing story of the mapping of the sea floor and it helps pupils to think what it might have been like to be a female scientist at a time when science was dominated by men and women's ideas were dismissed.

There are many activities on our website about the sea floor and about great scientists and 'how science works'. July 2020 marked 100 years since the birth of Marie Tharp. Today she is recognised for her huge contribution to the development of the Earth sciences. Her ground-breaking work now inspires the scientists, particularly the female scientists, of the future. She deserves to be as well known as Mary Anning.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Why are big earthquakes so much more destructive than small ones?

'Spaghetti quakes; why are big earthquakes so much more destructive than small ones?'

 This activity uses increasingly large bundles of dry spaghetti to demonstrate how each unit of logarithmic increase in earthquake magnitude is related to a 30-fold increase in energy release. It is a demonstration of “earthquake energy” using spaghetti, to help students to appreciate the use of logarithmic scales when
measuring quantities with huge ranges in values.

Many more ELIs about earthquakes can be found on our website either through the search engine or by using the alphabetical index.

 

Monday, 16 November 2020

Traverse of the eastern Pacific Ocean

The new ELI today is the third in our series on sea-floor mapping - 'Sounding the Pacific Ocean; an echo sounder traverse of the eastern Pacific'.

A pupil exercise in plotting echo sounder data from a ship’s traverse in the eastern Pacific Ocean. This is one of a series of activities involving sounding of ocean floors, and leads on to the relationship between the topographic features and plate tectonic theory.

The other activities can be found on our website by using the search engine or alphabetical index.

Monday, 9 November 2020

Trying to imagine the enormity of geological time

It's very difficult for everyone to imagine the enormity of geological time: we talk about millions of years but how big is one million? Try this ELI - 'How many for a million? How many sheets of graph paper for 1 million, or 100 million, or a 1000 million squares?'

This activity involves calculations to help pupils to visualise the enormity of a million years, and then 1000 million years. Pupils are asked to use the 50,000 mm squares on a sheet of graph paper as a means of visualising what 1 million, 100 million and 1000 million look like.

Many more activities related to Geological time can be found on our website.

Monday, 2 November 2020

Modelling sea-floor mapping

Our new ELI today is the second in the series about the sea floor. 'Modelling seafloor mapping; how to simulate an echo-sounder study of seafloor topography.'


This ELI simulates sea-floor topography, sea-floor mapping and echo-sounding techniques.

It is suitable for an oceanography module in secondary school but also for introducing the study of the ocean in primary school. It gives the opportunity to learn about the methods used to explore sea-floor topography and build sea-floor maps and is linked with the history of plate tectonic theory. Moreover, it offers a view on what is known of the deep sea and what is still to explore.

Other activities associated with ocean and seas can be found on our website. 

Monday, 26 October 2020

Make your own rock

'Make your own rock; investigating how loose sediment may be stuck together to form a ‘rock’'

This activity demonstrates the compaction and cementation of sediments. Making, and subsequently testing 'rocks' by using sand and a range of ‘cements’.

The activity could form part of a lesson dealing with sedimentary rocks and how they are formed. It may also have applications to local building materials.

Many activities about sedimentary rocks and their role in the rock cycle can be found by using the search engine or alphabetical index on our website.

Monday, 19 October 2020

How are the depths of seas and oceans measured?

Our new ELI today is the first in a series about mapping the ocean and sea floors. 'Measuring the depths of seas and oceans: How is it done? A simple demonstration of how we measure sea floor depths and relief'

This activity demonstrates both ancient and modern methods of measuring and profiling sea and ocean floor depths.

Other activities about ocean and sea floors can be found on our website.
 

Monday, 12 October 2020

Using evidence from rock sequences to understand past environments

'Applying ‘the present is the key to the past’ An outdoor activity to apply the present to the past - using Earth science-thinking in reverse'


An outdoor-based thought experiment to show how Earth scientists use evidence from rock sequences to understand past environments. Pupils develop their understanding of the Principle of Uniformitarianism (the present is the key to the past), first developed by scientists in the late 1700s.

Many more activities for outdoor work can be found on our website - search for 'fieldwork'.

Monday, 5 October 2020

What drives the plates? Modelling slab pull

The new ELI today is the last in our series of What drives the plates? - 'What drives the plates? Modelling slab pull; modelling and discussing the slab pull plate-driving mechanism in the classroom'

 Video demonstrating the model

Teaching video

Different ways of modelling the slab pull plate-driving mechanism are used in classroom discussion. Seismic wave velocity measurements show that some subducting plates sink right down to near the mantle/core boundary, pulling the surface part of the plate behind them.

Many more activities about plate tectonics can be found on our website.

Monday, 28 September 2020

Rock grain cut out

'Rock grain cut out; how can you tell which grains come from which rock?'

This cutting out and pasting activity is designed to encourage pupils to think carefully about the characteristics of rock grains and how they fit together, in the three major rock groups. It is also useful if you do not have many hand specimens.

There are many Earthlearningidea activities about the three major rock groups and how to identify them. Use the search engine or alphabetical index on the website.

Monday, 21 September 2020

What drives the plates? In slab pull, what is it that pulls?

The new ELI today is 'What drives the plates? In slab pull, what is it that pulls? Understanding how slab pull works through examining the data'.

This activity uses the diagram shown above giving rock densities. A series of questions prompt pupils to study the diagram carefully and so aid their understanding of the slab-pull plate driving mechanisms.

More activities about plate tectonics can be found on our website by using the search engine or the alphabetical index.


Monday, 14 September 2020

Soil erosion

'Why does soil get washed away? Investigating why some farmers lose their soil through erosion whilst others do not'

This activity investigates the effect of vegetation cover in protecting soil from erosion in heavy rainfall. Soil erosion is a normal part of the natural rock cycle, but it can become a major problem in many rural areas where people depend on the land for their livelihood. This activity provides the opportunity to investigate some of the factors involved in limiting soil erosion. You can see the activity in action in this short video clip.

There is also an extension activity about painting with soil

 

Monday, 7 September 2020

Evidence for the different plate tectonic driving mechanisms

 The new ELI today continues our series about plate driving mechanisms:

'What drives the plates? The evidence
Examine the evidence for the different plate tectonic driving mechanisms'

In this activity, plate data is used to judge the different theories about plate-driving mechanisms.

Many activities related to plate tectonics can be found on our website by using the alphabetical index or the search engine.

Monday, 31 August 2020

Today's post is all about 'What drives the plates'. This activity is the first in a series exploring the new evidence for the main driver of plate movement.

'What drives the plates? Using a pupil model to demonstrate that slab pull is the main plate-driving force'

 
This activity considers the different processes likely to be driving plate movement by use of a pupil model. There is a teaching video explaining this activity.
Many more activities and videos about plate tectonics can be found on our website.

Monday, 24 August 2020

Future power: predicting the mix of future power source contributions

The new ELI today is 'Future power: predicting the mix of future power source contributions: extrapolating from the last 50 years of power use to realistically predict the next 50 years'

It is difficult to make realistic predictions of future energy use. This activity challenges pupils to undertake realistic modelling of future sources of power based on past data. This ELI can be used as in individual activity or for discussion by groups in the class.

Many other Earhlearningideas related to power sources can be found on our website by using the search engine or alphabetical index.

Monday, 17 August 2020

Weathering of rocks in a desert environment

'Cracking apart; simulating the weathering of rocks in a desert environment'  (This is an ELI+ activity because it requires the use of a Bunsen burner)

In this activity, small chips of granite and other rocks are heated in a Bunsen flame and then rapidly cooled in water. This is repeated to investigate the rate at
which they ‘weather’ by breaking apart.

Weathering may be studied in a science lesson in the context of the physical processes involved or when considering landscape development in a geography lesson. Many activities about all types of weathering can be found on the website.

Monday, 10 August 2020

Storms and erosion rates

Our new ELI today is 'How can storms affect erosion rates? Predict what will happen to a landscape if it is affected by a storm.'

 

In this activity, pupils are asked to study images of various landscapes and to predict how the rate of erosion might be affected by storms.

Many activities related to erosion can be found on our website.


Monday, 3 August 2020

How valuable ores can be found on river beds


This activity investigates the importance of differences in density of sand and a valuable ore, to see how the ores may become concentrated by the action of moving water.
Many more activities about density and the values and uses of minerals can be found on the website.

Monday, 27 July 2020

A rock is a time capsule – a message from the past

The new ELI today is 'A rock is a time capsule – a message from the past; bringing to life the extraordinary stories of ordinary rocks.'


When we see a rock as a bundle of evidence of how the Earth used to be, we can begin to look for the clues that tell us about its past history, and the past history of the planet. Rocks are natural time capsules and by using the ‘time capsule’ approach you can bring a rock to life in ways that will amaze pupils and adults alike.
Many other activities about bringing a rock to life can be found by using the search engine on our website.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Working out what happened during unconformity time gaps

'Filling the gap – picturing the unconformity ‘abyss of time’? Working out what happened during unconformity time gaps'.

This activity gives a good method of helping pupils to visualise the enormous time-spans between the upper and lower layers of unconformities. This exercise can be carried out for any unconformity in the field or on a photograph. You could superimpose the hand onto an unconformity photo of your own.
Many more activities can be found on our website.

Monday, 13 July 2020

World energy needs in the future

New ELI today 'What is/are the least bad option(s) for plugging the future global energy gap? A discussion on the least-damaging ways to meet world energy needs in the future'.


Given that renewable fuel sources will be unable to fulfil all global energy needs for the foreseeable future, pupils consider which of the alternative sources might plug this energy gap.
Many activities related to energy sources can be found on our website.

Monday, 6 July 2020

'Shell shake – survival of the toughest; why is the fossil record incomplete?'




Pupils deliberately smash a variety of seashells to see which ones are strong enough to remain recognisable, and which ones are so weak that they would leave little or no evidence of their existence. This leads pupils to realise that the fossil record is often biased. Many organisms are destroyed by being eaten or by being broken up into tiny fragments by moving water, or by processes of lithification of the host sediment. This lesson demonstrates that a slab of apparently well-preserved fossils may not present a true record of all that lived there, so caution is needed in reconstructing the ancient environment in its entirety.
Many more activities in the Evolution of Life category can be found on our website.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Deformed Trilobites




Geologists can work out the stresses that rocks have undergone by looking at the ways in which fossils have changed shape. This activity can be used as an introduction to the concept of principal stress orientations as part of a scheme of study on rock deformation.
Other Earthlearningideas related to metamorphism and rock deformation can be found on our website,


Monday, 22 June 2020

Plate tectonics - an introduction

Plate tectonics - big picture, 'facts', earthquake and volcanic evidence.


These three video clips give an excellent introduction to the theory of plate tectonics. More video clips about the topic can be found on our website.

Monday, 15 June 2020

Make your own sedimentary structures

New ELI today - 'Which sedimentary structures can you make? Making sedimentary structures in the classroom using simple apparatus and materials'.


This ELI is a revision activity, involving investigations into how sedimentary structures are formed in loose sediment. Pupils are given a choice of simple apparatus and materials to work out how they can best demonstrate the formation of a particular sedimentary structure.
Many activities related to sedimentary structures can be found on our website either by using the search engine or the alphabetical index.



Monday, 8 June 2020

ELI now has eleven videos to explain the structure of the Earth.


There are video question scripts and ELI activities associated with each video. Also you will find a comprehensive workshop 'Investigating Earth's structure'.

Monday, 1 June 2020

The amazing journeys of rubber ducks around the world

New ELI today 'Lost at sea – the amazing journeys of rubber ducks around the world; studying ocean currents following the Friendly Floatees ocean spill'.


Our new ELI uses a real case to study ocean surface currents. The activity provides an opportunity to address the topic of ocean circulation by means of a real case reported by the media. It also promotes awareness of the connections between local and global sea pollution.
Many more interesting case studies can be found on our website by putting the topic into the search engine or by using the alphabetical index.


Monday, 25 May 2020

Earth's structure and Plate tectonics videos

NEW online videos. As well as the rock cycle, there are now videos about Earth's structure and Plate tectonics  All are fun to watch and to do.


Also there are two new professional development workshops, Investigating the Earth's structure and the plate tectonics story.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Geological time and the Anthropocene?

New ELI+ today 'What might be the marker for the ‘golden spike’ at the end of the Anthropocene? How is geological time subdivided and what are likely future human impacts on the Earth?'

One of the latest scientific debates is about whether or not a new geological time period should be recognised, called the Anthropocene Epoch. If it is recognised, this would be the time on Earth when human activity dominated the climate and the environment.
This ELI+ activity involves a class discussion focussed on how geological time periods are devised and what the future for the Earth might be.
Other activities related to Geological time may be found on our website.

Monday, 11 May 2020

Virtual Rock Kit for those stuck at home

Are you stuck at home? 
No rock specimens to examine? 
Try using our  

VIRTUAL ROCK KIT.


You can now view sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks as they appear in the landscape, in hand specimen. under hand lens magnification, in thin section and even in use. The thin sections can be viewed with plane polars or cross polars.
Once you know your rocks, you can try many of the Earthlearningidea activities or watch some of our new videos. The latter show all aspects of the dynamic rock cycle so your knowledge of the rocks from the virtual rock kit will be put to good use. You could try collecting some small pieces of your local rocks as you exercise and then identify them.


Monday, 4 May 2020

How does a reduction in pressure lower melting and boiling points?

Today's new Earthlearningidea is an ELI+ activity - 'Melting and boiling – the influence of pressure; how does a reduction in pressure lower melting and boiling points?'


This ELI is a demonstration of the reduction of boiling point due to reducing the pressure. This provides an analogy with rocks melting at a lower temperature when the overlying pressure is reduced, notably at a divergent plate margin.
Other activities related to pressure or to plate tectonics can be found by using the search engine or alphabetical index on our website.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Laying out the rock cycle

Today's new videos are 'Laying out the rock cycle'.


Pupils are asked to place a series of rock cycle products in the correct places on a diagram of the rock cycle, then to consider how all these are linked by rock cycle processes.
Other teaching videos and a copy of the Dynamic rock cycle workshop can be found in our new Teaching videos and workshops page on the website.



Monday, 20 April 2020

Freeze-thaw weathering

The new activity today is 'Breaking up – classroom freeze-thaw weathering; showing how freezing and thawing can break porous rocks in the classroom'.

This activity is a classroom demonstration of the physical weathering process, freezing and thawing.
Also, you may like to try 'Ice power' to accompany this.
Other weathering processes can be found in the alphabetical index or by using the search engine.

Monday, 13 April 2020

Teaching videos

New ELI teaching videos! A new teaching video will be published every two weeks. Videos and question scripts will show how, by using the CASE methodology, Earthlearningideas can be used to develop critical thinking skills as well as knowledge and understanding.
 Video - Explanation of CASE
 Video - 'Atmosphere and ocean in a tank' - an example of using the CASE method of teaching


The videos plus their associated question scripts can be found on our website under ELI Teaching Videos

Monday, 6 April 2020

Create your own music - inspired by the natural world

Today's new ELI is 'Geo-music - music inspired by all things ‘geo’: create your own geo-music'

Much of our great music was and is inspired by the natural world. This activity encourages pupils to listen to such music and to compose their own.
The activity creates a cross-curricular link between the sciences and arts.
Other cross-curricular activities can be found in Teaching strategies and in Children's Fun on our website.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Ideas for Home Schooling

In these very difficult circumstances, many of you will be working from home and trying to think of ideas for your pupils or for children at home.
Earthlearningidea has a Children's Fun page which may help.


Alternatively, you can find topics by using either the search engine or the alphabetical index. Each activity has a suggested age range (usually on the second page).

Monday, 23 March 2020

New ELI today ‘Tagging’ nitrogen atoms – to explore the nitrogen cycle: a thought experiment to investigate nitrogen cycle processes'


Drawings showing the cycling of matter are abstract concepts and so difficult for pupils to understand. Using the pretend ‘tagging’ method helps them to gain a more concrete idea of the different steps involved and so can be used to teach or consolidate understanding of the nitrogen and other cycles.
More activities involving chemistry in Earth science can be found in Teaching strategies on the website.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Different densities of Earth's layers

'From an orange to the whole Earth; using an orange to model different densities of the Earth’s layers'.


The orange is analogous to the Earth in having a relatively dense centre (mantle/core) and a much less dense skin (crust).
More activities about the structure of the Earth can be found on our website in Teaching strategies or by using the search engine or alphabetical index.



Monday, 9 March 2020

Updated 'mantle plume' activity

Because the science has moved on, we have just re-published an activity we first wrote in 2010. This includes all the latest thinking on this topic.

A “mantle plume” in a beaker – but not driving plates: mantle plumes ‘yes’ – but convection currents driving plates, probably ‘No’


This Earthlearningidea replaces A “mantle plume” in a beaker: modelling processes at a constructive (divergent) plate margin’, which was published when the convection current model of mantle drag was thought to be the main driving force of plate movement.
Many more activities relating to plate tectonics, including recent UPDATES can be found on our website.
(Please refresh your page or clear your history if you get the old version of this ELI.)


Monday, 2 March 2020

How did Charles Darwin discover how soil formed?

"Darwin’s ‘big soil idea’. Can you work out how Charles Darwin ‘discovered’ how soil formed?"


This activity involves finding out how Charles Darwin ‘discovered’ soil by using the evidence he used and trying to think as he thought, including building a wormery like he did.
You can find many more activities about soil on our website.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Understanding plate tectonic processes

 New ELI today - 'What do the top and bottom of a tectonic plate look like? Questions to test understanding of plate tectonic processes'.
When asked to draw tectonic plates on cross sectional diagrams, many students have drawn plates deep beneath the surface, thus showing a lack of understanding of plate processes.
This deep question discussion tests understanding not only of the tops of plates but also of the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary (LAB) at the bases of plates, currently the focus of much geoscientific research across the world.
Search the alphabetical index or the keyword search on our website for many more activities related to plate tectonics.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Power sources

'Power through the window; which power source might be built in the view you can see from your window?'


Are you a NIMBY? Pupils are asked to think about which sorts of power source (power station, wind farm or wave power plant) COULD be built in the view through their window – before considering which of them SHOULD be built there.
Many activities about power sources can be found on our website.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Recent research in plate tectonics

This week we have two updates in plate tectonics:
'UPDATE: Recent research in plate tectonics (2020)'
'UPDATE: Follow the Joides Resolution research ship at sea (2020)'

The first activity involves students investigating web-based material aimed at updating their understanding of the nature of the oceanic lithosphere and the processes involved in sea-floor spreading in different oceans.
Similarly, following the Joides Resolution research ship gives web-based resources enabling students to follow the current work of geoscientists at sea.
Many activities about plate tectonics can be found on our website.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Solar eclipse - the Moon hides the Sun

'Why does the Sun disappear? Demonstrate what happens when the Moon hides the Sun'


This activity can be carried out when investigating our Solar system. It compares the relative sizes and positions of the Moon and the Sun in relation to the Earth.
Similar activities can be found in our 'Earth in Space' catgory on the website.

Monday, 27 January 2020

New ELI today 'Where on Earth is no soil found? A ‘deep question’ discussion about soil-formation'.

This activity involves a class discussion to consolidate learning about soil-forming processes.
Many other soil-related activities can be found on our website in teaching strategies. The search engine and alphabetical index can also be used.

Monday, 20 January 2020

The carbon cycle

'The carbon cycle through the window; how much evidence of the carbon cycle can you see through the window?'


The carbon cycle can be introduced when teaching many topics including the atmosphere, photosynthesis, respiration, decomposition, combustion and fossil fuels, climate change and so on. Possible answers are provided in the activity.
Many more activities relating to the Earth as a system can be found on our website.



Monday, 13 January 2020

A palaeogeography in your school yard

The new ELI today is 'Playground continents; a palaeogeography in your school yard'.


In this Earthlearningidea, pupils are asked to match a set of specimens or photographs to their probable location on a map of an imaginary continent, drawn on the playground surface or on paper in the classroom.
This topic provides an excellent link between evidence in the geological record for former climatic regimes and modern geography. It could well be run in liaison between the science and the geography departments.
For more activities related to Palaeoenvironments, please refer to our Teaching strategies, the alphabetical index or use the search engine on our website.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Rock cycle - product and process

'Laying out the rock cycle: product and process; sorting out the rock cycle products – and then adding the processes'

In this activity pupils are asked to place a series of rock cycle products in the correct places on a diagram of the rock cycle, then to consider how all these are linked by rock cycle processes.
Many activities about the rock cycle can be found on our website.