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.