Monday 29 December 2008

Power through the window

In this latest Earthlearningidea, pupils are asked to think about which sorts of power source could be built in the view through the window - before considering which of them should be built there. Is anyone a NIMBY?
Thinking skill development: pupils are asked to bridge from the photographs of power sources to the view through the window. Any debates are likely to cause cognitive conflict.
This activity should generate lots of arguments and comments - please send us some.

Monday 22 December 2008

Why does the Sun disappear?

The new Earthlearningidea for this week is 'Why does the sun disappear? Demonstrate what happens when the Moon hides the Sun.' This activity demonstrates how a small object, which is near, can block out the view of a much larger object that is further away. Do your pupils think that the Sun and the Moon often appear to be the same size in the sky? They are not the same size at all and yet the Moon can block out the Sun completely so that it goes quite dark - - solar eclipse or total eclipse of the Sun.
This is our first activity in the category 'Earth and space'. Can you think of some more? Have a look at the home page on our website - 'Invitation to contribute'. We shall be very pleased to receive your contributions.

Monday 15 December 2008

Carbon cycle through the window

Our latest Earthlearningidea is 'Carbon cycle through the window; how much evidence of the carbon cycle can you see through the window?' Ask your pupils to look through a window or doorway and answer these questions:
- where on Earth does carbon occur and where can you see evidence for it?
- where is carbon 'fixed' and where can you see evidence for it?
- where is carbon 'released' and where can you see evidence for it?
Please let us know how you get on by leaving comments on this blog.

Monday 8 December 2008

Groundwater investigation

The new Earthlearningidea is about groundwater 'From rain to spring: water from the ground'. The activity demonstrates how water flows through the ground and how it can be used and how it can be polluted. All you need for this innovative idea is a plastic container, some plastic cups, some washed sand, a spoon and some 'waste'.
The model demonstrates how groundwater flows and forms aquifers (permeable rocks containing underground water supplies). In the model, the upper part with the cups represents the 'hills'; water poured into the cups represents 'rain'; the water emerges from the 'ground' in a 'spring'. The 'spring' is usually found at the lower end of the container, where the downward flowing water reaches the impermeable edge of the container and flows upwards to the 'ground surface' - as in many natural springs formed where flowing water meets an impermeable barrier.
Your pupils will enjoy this easy-to-set-up activity; please let us have your comments - click on 'comments' below.

Monday 1 December 2008

New ELI - Environmental detective

The latest Earthlearningidea is 'Environmental detective; imagining how the evidence of modern environments could become preserved' This is an imaginative exercise in thinking about where different environments might occur on a tropical desert coast and how the evidence might become preserved in a sequence of rocks. In their imagination, pupils look at four different modern environments. All four of these environments existed millions of years ago too. In each environment, the sediments that were being deposited contain clues to that environment. The evidence may be preserved when the loose sediments are turned into rock. Your pupils are asked to be detectives and look at photos of the four environments and work out which photo applies to which environment.
Your pupils will enjoy this activity; please let us know how they get on. We should be pleased to receive samples of their work, the best of which we will publish.

Monday 24 November 2008

Rock cycle through the window

The latest activity 'Rock cycle through the window: the rock cycle processes you might be able to see - and those you can't' has just been published on our new website.
  • can you see weathering?
  • can you see erosion/transportation?
  • can you see deposition?
  • can you see the other rock cycle processes? - compaction/cementation of sediments or metamorphism or melting or crystallisation or uplift?
Let us know the reactions of your pupils to this activity. Could they imagine processes they couldn't see?

Monday 17 November 2008

Squeezed out of shape

Try our new Earthlearningidea 'Squeezed out of shape: detecting the distortion after rocks have been affected by Earth movements' Ask your pupils if we can ever tell by how much a rock has been squeezed by Earth movements. One way is to look at fossils in deformed rocks. The original shapes of these are usually well known, so they can be used to work out the extent to which they have been deformed. If the fossils have been deformed, then so has the rock in which they are found.
This is a very popular activity in the UK. Let us know how you get on - - send us some photos of your results.

Italian time-line in their own backyard!

We tried this activity, 'A time-line in your own backyard' using toilet paper for the geological time-line: with a roll of 600 segments we covered the evolution of pluricellular life (1 segment = 1 million years). The positioning of milestones along the time-line is a good starting point for discussion. You only need a school-yard, good weather and no wind. These students are 16 years old and enjoyed the activity.

We are always pleased to receive photos and comments about Earthlearningideas - please keep them coming.


Monday 10 November 2008

Me - a fossil?

'How could I become fossilised? Thinking through fossilisation in the context of me or you' is the latest Earthlearningidea. The pupils are asked to consider what would happen if someone in their class fell into a nearby river or the sea and died. How might they become fossilised? Inevitably, the story of decay is a bit gruesome but you can steer the pupils to the answers. The best chances of fossilisation are where there is no activity to drag the body along, where there is no oxygen so that animals that might eat the body and bacteria that might rot the body can't live. The best chances of getting these conditions occur if the body is buried. If you want to be a fossil, don't fall into a river or the sea, ask to be buried! You need to be buried in impermeable ground like mud or clay that will keep water and oxygen out - like the man shown in the image above. He died more than 6000 years ago and was buried in a bog (Tollund Man from Denmark). Unfortunately, he isn't 10,000 years old and so is too young to be a true fossil.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Earthlearningidea website

As you may have seen, the latest upgrade of pbwiki has changed our website. Please note that you do NOT need to log in and all the pdfs are still FREE to download. Let us know if you have any problems.
We are trying to solve the problem but please bear with us, as this may take some time.

Monday 3 November 2008

Earthquake prediction

Click here to view the latest activity 'Earthquake prediction - when will the earthquake strike?' In this activity we model how forces acting in the Earth can build up stresses, which are suddenly released when rocks fail (fracture). This activity could form part of a lesson on earthquakes and their effects, leading to an understanding of the difficulties faced by civil authorities in clearing an earthquake-prone district in time to prevent casualties. It is also a useful application of the theory of forces.
Remember to let us know how you get on when you try this Earthlearningidea.

Saturday 1 November 2008

The Himalayas in 30 seconds

We have received some thought-provoking queries via YouTube about the video used to illustrate the Earthlearningidea, 'The Himalayas in 30 seconds'. We have responded in full to the questions in 'Extension ideas' which accompany this activity.
We should be pleased to receive further comments about this or any of the other activities.

Monday 27 October 2008

Rocks to eat?

The latest Earthlearningidea is 'Rocks to eat? How we get the elements we need to stay healthy'. Like all living things, we need many chemical elements in order to be healthy. These elements come from minerals in the soil and the soil gets the minerals from the rocks beneath. This activity explores how these elements reach us and other living things.
Do please let us have feedback on this activity.

Monday 20 October 2008

Cracking the clues

This activity is great fun to try - 'Cracking the clues: making your own cracking clues to the Earth's past'.
Your pupils may have noticed that, when a pool dries up, it often leaves a muddy bed, which cracks into regular shapes (polygons) as the wet mud shrinks. Therefore, ancient mudcracks show us that the area where they are found must have been mud that dried out in the past. It must have been surface mud rather than mud laid down under deep water. So the cracks are key clues to the conditions in which the mud was laid down.
Polygonal cracking in natural materials is caused by shrinkage and the shrinkage is caused either by drying out or by contraction on cooling.
Please let us know how you get on with this latest Earthlearningidea. Which method did you use?

Monday 13 October 2008


Click here to view the latest Earthlearningidea - 'Weathering - rocks breaking up and breaking down'. In this activity pupils are asked to match pictures and descriptions of weathered rocks with the processes of weathering that formed them.
Weathering occurs all around us, and in all climates. It affects construction materials as well as natural exposures of rocks. Weathering contributes to the concentration of economic resources, such as china clay and bauxite and is very important in the formation of soil. It probably plays a vital role in climate change as well.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

ELI - October update

Since Earthlearningidea started in May 2007, we have had just over 8000 visits to the site from 112 countries. We have published maps showing the countries and cities where Earthlearningidea activities have been viewed. As you can see from the map, there is a large area in Africa that we have not reached. Can anyone help? Contact us via this blog or by email.

Monday 6 October 2008

What controls the speed of a tsunami wave?

This our latest Earthlearningidea - click here. This activity investigates the relationship between the depth of water in a tank and the velocity of a water wave generated by lifting and then dropping one end of the tank.
Please try this activity with your pupils and let us know their results. What do they think affects the speed at which a tsunami travels? Will the wave travel faster or slower in shallow water than it does in deep water? Write your comments on this blog.

Thursday 2 October 2008

From Russia

The following has been sent to us from the Institute of Natural Science, Perm State University in Russia;-
"I am grateful for this project and that you send news regularly. I teach Environmental Geochemistry and Biogeochemistry in the Department of Geography in Perm State University and I have used some Earthlearningideas as examples of geological and biological processes. I also recommend your site to my students."
We are very pleased to hear news like this. Thank you.
The Earthlearningidea Team

Monday 29 September 2008

How could we survive for a year in a sealed dome?

'Space survival: how could we survive a year in a dome?' is our latest Earthlearningidea.
Give the pupils copies of the carbon, water and nitrogen cycles and then ask them:-
What will you take with you? You can order whatever you want but think about the following questions:-
- What are you going to breathe?
- What are you going to drink? How will you collect fresh water?
- What are you going to eat? Will you be vegetarian? If not, how will you get meat?
- What is your likely water/oxygen/food consumption per day?
- How will you dispose of waste?
- What energy source will you use? How will you use it?
- How will you produce power?
- How will you control temperature?
- What will your medical requirements be?
- What are you going to do when you get there? Who will do which jobs?
- What else will you need to consider?
This is a popular activity in the UK. Please do try it with your pupils and let us publish their results.

ELI activities in Italy

News from Italy - "Yesterday, the Italian Teachers' Association ran a workshop in Bologna to spread Earthlearningidea activities. Six activities were presented in two hours. There were 29 teachers from secondary schools (mainly from Emilia, Romagna and Toscana) and they enjoyed the workshop and the interactive methodology (which was quite new to us, who are more used to frontal lectures). I used a small questionnaire at the end to find out if they liked the
workshop and everybody wrote that they would like another one soon. Thank you."
This is really good news; we are always delighted to know when our activities are being used and enjoyed.
Earthlearningidea team.

Monday 22 September 2008

New Earthlearningidea

Metamorphism - that's Greek for 'change of shape' isn't it? This is our latest Earth-related activity.
The concept of metamorphism is a difficult one to explain because the processes happen at considerable depth in the crust or mantle and cannot be readily reproduced in a school laboratory. The activities given here demonstrate the principle of the effects of pressure on particles of different shape and composition, but cannot reproduce the recrystallisation that accompanies real metamorphism. However, slate and marble are important constructional and decorative materials and it is useful for pupils to have some understanding of their origins.
(The photo shows a Welsh craftsman splitting roofing slate)

Earthlearningidea in 2009

Because Earthlearningidea has been so successful and continues to attract new users, we have decided to continue publishing the activities into 2009 but we should like some new ideas from you.
Please click on the INVITATION link on the home page of our website for more details.

Tuesday 16 September 2008

News from Italy

We have received the following information from Italy:-
'The teachers' association (the only one in Italy that includes geoscience teachers), has formed a workgroup on Earth science education (ANISN-DST) and we are translating the Earthlearningideas. We have our next meeting on 25th September and on this date we have a workshop where some of us will present the ELI activities to other colleagues to try to spread the use of ELI in the schools. Several teachers from different regions have already written to me that they are interested in this idea.'

Monday 15 September 2008

An eruption through the window

We have just published another of our popular 'through the window' activities. Click here to see 'An eruption through the window; how could an eruption transform your view - lava, ash, lahar or something worse? Picture a large volcano to the left of the window - how would your view be affected by an eruption of the volcano? Different volcanoes erupt differently and the view could be transformed in different ways depending on the type of eruption. For each type of eruption, ask yourselves:
- What would you see - how would this change as the eruption continued?
- What might you sense - hearing, smelling, tasting or in other ways?
- How would you be feeling?
- Would you be safe? Would your friends and family be safe?
- What might the view be like after the end of the eruption?
Choose the best of your pupils' work on this activity and we will publish it.

Monday 8 September 2008

Where shall we drill for oil?

In our latest Earthlearningidea, the diagram shows how oil and gas are formed, how they become trapped in the ground and how they may be extracted. Pupils are asked to list the events in the correct order and are given sentences to help. They are also asked to explain how oil and gas might escape from the trap on the right and what would happen if the fault brought the limestone on the right into contact with the sandstone on the left. Lastly they explain what sorts of rock they would be looking for if they were searching for oil and gas.

Monday 1 September 2008

What is the geological history?

Click here for our latest Earthlearningidea, 'What is geological history'. This activity encourages pupils to use simple stratigraphic principles to work out a sequence of events to reveal a geological history. The cartoon diagram given shows, in a simple way, the geological history of the UK. This activity is especially good when combined with Earthlearningidea 'Laying down the principles'.

Please send us some feedback about these activities, either by using comments here on the blog or by

Monday 25 August 2008

Carbon goes round and round and round

Click here to view our latest Earthlearningidea about the carbon cycle.
Pupils are asked to arrange specimens, drawings or photos of the carbon cycle into the correct sequence. They are then asked at which stages carbon is 'fixed' and which stages carbon is 'released'.
The carbon cycle can be introduced when teaching many topics including the atmosphere, photosynthesis, respiration, decomposition, combustion, fossil fuels, climate change - - - -
Let us know how you introduce it.

Monday 18 August 2008

New activity - See how they run!

Why do some lavas flow further and more quickly than others? Find out by trying our latest Earthlearningidea 'See how they run'.
Ask your pupils why they think that some volcanoes erupt lava that can flow for many kilometres, whilst others tend to produce lava domes with no runny lava at all. Pupils can then investigate some of the factors that control the viscosity (or 'stickiness') of fluids, using a viscous fluid like treacle as a substitute for lava.

At the end of this activity your pupils should be able to explain that the viscosity of a fluid depends on several variables including temperature, content of solid particles and gas content. They will know that a fluid with low viscosity will flow further than one of high viscosity. They will appreciate that lavas may contain liquids, solids and gases and that volcanoes emitting lava of high viscosity may be more dangerous than ones with low viscosity lava, which flows away more freely.

Monday 11 August 2008

Bringing a fossil to life

'What was it like to be there? - bringing a fossil to life' is our latest Earthlearningidea.
Try to bring fossils to life in the imaginations of your pupils by asking a series of key questions. Encourage them to use the evidence from the fossils themselves to answer the questions, rather than by guessing. Ask them to suggest what other evidence might help them to give even better answers. Questions to ask are as follows -

When it was alive:
- What sort of place was this animal living in?
- What did it breathe?
- What did it eat?
- Was it a hunter? — or hunted? — or both?
- What could it have seen?
- What could it have sensed?
- How did it die? — can we tell?
- What happened after it died?
Pupils have to use their creativity and imagination to bring the animals and their environments to life, whilst 'bridging' between life today and in the past.
Let us know how you get on with this activity by writing a comment on this blog or by contacting us by email.

Monday 4 August 2008

Quarry through the window

'Quarry through the window - what would you see, what would you not see?' This is our latest Earthlearningidea - click here to view the activity in English. It can also be found in Spanish in the 'Resources and Environment' category (Recursos y Medio Ambiente) - click here.
Many people don't realise that, to build our buildings, to construct transport links and to make dams and reservoirs, we have to extract millions of tonnes of material from the ground — and that this comes from quarries. Most people would not like a quarry in their 'backyard', but quarries have to be sited where the materials are found underground, and not too far from where they are needed, because it is very expensive to transport bulk materials like quarry products for long distances. So, some rock, sand and gravel quarries and clay pits have to be sited near towns and cities.
Ask your pupils to try this activity and send us their work. We will publish the best.

Monday 28 July 2008

Dinosaur death - did it die or was it killed?

Dinosaur death- did it die or was it killed? Was this a Cretaceous crime scene? - using rock and fossil forensic evidence to find out. This is our latest Earthlearningidea - click here to view this exciting new activity. A large fossil skeleton has been found in rocks near your school. Did the animal die naturally or was it attacked and killed? Use your detective skills to investigate what really happened long ago. Pupils use evidence from rocks and fossils to build up a picture of how the dinosaur died - like a detective builds up a case from a crime scene.
This is a very popular activity in the UK. Let us know how your pupils react.

Monday 21 July 2008

Flood through the window

Our new Earthlearningidea 'Flood through the window - what would you see, how would you feel?' is now available on our website - click here to view.
Pupils are asked to visualise a flood seen through the window and imagine its likely impacts now and in the future. Sudden flooding episodes can even affect area with steep slopes, but are much more common in flat, low-lying areas subject to major weather phenomena.
Please try this out with your class and let us know how you get on. Perhaps you could send us the pupils' work which we will publish.

Saturday 19 July 2008

Earthlearningidea across the world

This map, produced by Google analytics, shows the countries where Earthlearningideas have been viewed. The darker the shading, the more visits to the site. The blog has been visited 6190 times since it began in May last year and we have reached 101 countries.
The activities are available in English and Spanish but are now being translated into Norwegian and Italian. We hope to add more languages in the future.
We are over half-way through our weekly publications now so please keep your comments coming.

Monday 14 July 2008

Blow up your own volcano!

Simulate your own volcanic eruption by using either of the two methods explained in this activity - soapsuds volcano and coke volcano. Before either of the demonstrations, try asking the pupils what they think causes the lava to come out of a volcano.
The nature of a volcanic eruption depends on many factors, including the type of underlying magma, its temperature, the quantities of gases dissolved under pressure, the thickness of the overlying rock and its extent of fracture. A small range of these variables may be seen in these activities.
Click HERE to view a short video clip of the soapsuds volcano.
Please let us have your comments and/or suggestions about these exciting activities.

Monday 7 July 2008

The porosity of rocks

The Space within - the porosity of rocks. For this Earthlearningidea, the pupils make a sedimentary rock by packing any roughly sphere-shaped things of the same size, e.g. oranges or marbles, into a suitable container. The oranges or marbles are like the grains which make up a sedimentary rock, like sand grains in a sandstone.
You can get the pupils more involved in this demonstration as follows: when a container is full of spheres, ask ‘Is it full’? After they answer ‘Yes’, you add water to show that there was still lots of space.
Similarly, before pouring in the water, ask them to predict how much water could be added. Most will be surprised at how much water can be poured in – and that apparently solid materials can be more than a third space.
Natural sandstones have porosities that range up to around 50%, so they may have plenty of space for water or oil/gas. Natural clays can have porosities up to more than 80% - but they are often impermeable, since the pore spaces are so small that water cannot flow through.
Try this activity with your pupils and let us know how you get on.

Monday 30 June 2008

A time-line in your own backyard

Try our latest Earthlearningidea - 'A time-line in your own backyard'. Pupils are told that the string time-line represents the 4600 million years since the Earth was formed. The pupils are then asked to lay out the pictures in the order in which they think the organisms first appeared in the geological record. They then peg the events on to the string at the time when they think the organism first appeared.
By completing this activity, pupils can:-
- describe the history of life on Earth;
- appreciate how the fossil record provides evidence for the increasing complexity of organisms;
- appreciate the great length of the timescale within which evolution operates;
- explain that humans appeared very recently in geological terms.
Do try it out with your pupils and let us know the results.

Monday 23 June 2008

Eureka! - detecting ore the Archimedes way

This is our latest Earthlearningidea - detecting ore the Archimedes way by measuring density using a stick, string, a ruler, a bucket and a bottle of water. This activity shows that fairly sophisticated measurements can sometimes be made with very simple apparatus.
A rock that feels heavy may contain mineral ores. How can we find out if rocks that feel heavy for their size really are more dense than ordinary rocks? The simple way is to use the method discovered by the famous scientist Archimedes more than 2000 years ago. To investigate if something has a high density, we need to measure how heavy it is (its mass) and what size it is (its volume).
Please let us know how you get on with this activity.

Monday 16 June 2008

Salt of the Earth

Our latest activity is 'Salt of the Earth; who can make the biggest salt crystal?'
This activity provides a practical example of chemistry in action. Your pupils may know that crystals of salt (sodium chloride) form when salty water evaporates, but do they know how to grow a big crystal? Let them find out with this Earthlearningidea.
Please try this out and send us your thoughts and comments - - better still; let your pupils send us their thoughts and comments.

Wednesday 11 June 2008

Earthlearningideas in Italian

A new work group on Earth Science education has been formed in Italy, as a sub group of the teachers' association (ANISN). The work group is called ANISN-DST. One of the plans of the group is to translate some activities from the Earthlearningidea website into Italian. The plan is that each teacher translates one idea, a university teacher checks the translation, and then the translation is sent to Earthlearningidea for publication on the website. Next school year every teacher will try to use one or more Earthlearningidea activities in school. In September a workshop will be organised where every teacher shows an activity to the others, as a way of involving new teachers in the workgroup.
This is wonderful news; we are delighted - Earthlearningideas in English, Spanish, Norwegian, Italian - - - - which language will be next?

Monday 9 June 2008

New Earthlearningidea - Fossil or not?

Our latest activity is 'Fossil or not?' It is a discussion about what is a fossil and what is not.
See if your pupils can answer the following questions. Which of the following are fossils?
  • 4000 year-old footprints like ours;
  • a squirrel killed on the road;
  • 3500 million year-old cell filaments;
  • a petrified tree stump;
  • the trail of a trilobite in 530 million year-old rocks;
  • ‘tree-like’, dendritic mineral growths;
  • a beach pebble with holes bored by marine organisms;
  • a human shape preserved in volcanic ash at Pompeii;
  • a piece of dinosaur skin?
  • Do try this out and let us know your thoughts.

    Monday 2 June 2008

    Make your own rock

    Try our latest activity - 'Make your own rock; investigating how loose sediment may be stuck together to form a 'rock'' To become hard rocks, most sediments need to be cemented together. This idea can be tested with a variety of 'cements'. Pupils can demonstrate how 'rocks' are made by compacting and cementing loose sand. This activity is very popular in the UK - let us know how it is received in other countries.

    Sunday 25 May 2008

    Earth science out-of-doors

    Try our latest Earthlearningidea 'Earth science out of doors:preserving the evidence'.
    This activity involves taking the class outside, to an area with some bare soil exposed, and perhaps some grass. Explain that we are going to look around us at familiar surroundings, but that we will think about what evidence of the present day might possibly become preserved in the geological record. This involves trying to think of processes that are happening now and the evidence for those processes happening. Which of these pieces of evidence might be preserved if the area were buried under sediment?
    The usual geologist's approach is to use Lyell's principle that 'the present is the key to the past'. This activity involves geological reasoning in reverse, i.e. trying to predict the future from the present. Concerns about global climate change have recently involved geologists trying to predict the future from the past.

    Saturday 24 May 2008

    Earthlearningidea has reached 1543 cities

    This progress is good but, as you can see, we haven't reached many large centres of population in South America, Africa, Russia or China. Can you help us to spread the ideas?

    Friday 23 May 2008

    Atmosphere and ocean - extension ideas

    We have added the ideas received in a comment on this activity to an 'extension' file on the website. Click here to view and please add further thoughts and ideas about this innovative and thought-provoking activity.

    Monday 19 May 2008

    Atmosphere and ocean in a tank

    Our latest Earthlearningidea can now be seen on the website in both English and Spanish. 'High flow, low flow?: atmosphere and ocean in a tank'. This activity investigates hot, cold and particle-filled density currents as they flow in the atmosphere and ocean. Hot red water is used to show warm ocean currents, cold blue water to show cold currents and milk to demonstrate turbidity currents. Pupils become much more involved and watch more closely if they are asked to predict what will happen before each demonstration. They also learn more effectively that the results are controlled by density. What do you think the density 'ladder' eventually produced will be? Try it out and let us know!

    Monday 12 May 2008

    New Earthlearningidea - Oil and gas trapped in reservoir rocks

    Do try out our latest Earthlearningidea - 'Trapped! Why can't oil and gas escape from their underground prison?' In this activity you set up a model to demonstrate the principle of an oil and gas trap. This could form part of a lesson about the world's resources or it could follow a lesson on porosity and permeability. Pupils learn that oil and gas do not occur in underground lakes but are held within the pore spaces in the rock. We have provided a laboratory version and a home-made version. Both work well. Let us know how you and your pupils get on with this activity.

    Monday 5 May 2008

    A dinosaur in the yard

    This activity 'A dinosaur in the yard' introduces the concept that an imprint (trace fossil) is just as much a fossil as the remains of the actual body and can sometimes give very valuable information about the lifestyles of the organisms involved. The animal here is Iguanodon and we know that the height of the hip joint above the ground is approximately four times the length of the hind feet. We can also use the length of the animal's stride to find out whether it was walking, trotting or running.This activity provides useful links between physics, maths and geology.

    Wednesday 30 April 2008

    Notes for Mac users

    Recent changes to Safari to render .pdf files in the browser may have created a problem with downloaded pdf files having a double file suffix ( If your downloaded file has this suffix, please rename the file, deleting .ps.
    It is possible to receive the pdfs without this problem in other browsers e.g. Firefox. Alternatively it is possible to turn off internal pdf rendering in Safari, reverting to the use of Acrobat reader as before.

    We are not experts in this field so would welcome any further comments and suggestions from Mac users. Either comment on this post (click 'comments' below) or email us at
    We have also added this information in a link from our website

    Monday 28 April 2008

    The great soil race

    We have just published another Earthlearningidea - Permeability of soils - 'The great soil race'. Soils are a precious resource on which we all ultimately depend for our food supply. Understanding the structure and nature of a soil can lead to better management techniques. Many pupils will be involved in agriculture or gardening at some stage of their lives, and, in rural areas, may well depend on it for their livelihoods.
    This activity is great fun; try it with a clay-rich soil, a sandy soil and one with gravel or pebbles in it. Find out what your local soils are like. Do they absorb water or does it puddle on top or, maybe, it runs straight through? What can you do to improve it?
    Please contact us with your thoughts and comments.

    Friday 25 April 2008

    Further thoughts on 'Dig up a dinosaur'

    It is good to see that new subscribers are looking back at activities which were posted earlier in the year. We are referring to the new comment on 'Dig up a dinosaur'. A number of comments have been received about this activity; they can all be seen in the Extension ideas.
    If you have only just found us, then do please have a look at all the good ideas which have appeared over the last few months. Many subscribers have been able to see the links between the activities and their own country's educational programmes, such as the 5E programme in Taiwan, (mentioned in Extension ideas of Dig up a dinosaur).
    Modern pupils are rightly horrified at some of the misdemeanours of past scientists, such as the rival dinosaur "hunters" or the person who carried out the Piltdown Skull "missing link" forgery. We hope that the pupils of today will determine never to do the same.

    Perhaps some of our bloggers might care to contribute a story of scientists cooperating, as shown particularly in such achievements as the International Geophysical Year in 1957 and subsequent projects.

    Tuesday 22 April 2008