Monday 25 July 2011

Workshops in New Mexico

In June, a week of Earth science workshops was organised by Professor Mary Dowse at the Western New Mexico University. Earth Learning Ideas made up most of the activities; the following are some of the results:-
- the series of activities on the magnetic field of the Earth probably promoted the most learning among the teachers.  We did the whole group of exercises related to the magnetic field together and it gave them a far better understanding than they had before.  The questions they asked became more sophisticated as we went through the activities indicating a more sophisticated understanding on their part.
- the activity they liked best was Volcano in the lab.  Lots of learning and insight resulted from that activity.  The teachers had fun dismantling the model and looking at the 'intrusions'.
- they were frustrated trying to build some of the plate tectonic models; they felt the pictures were good, but could not sometimes see how to get from the picture to a working model. Their suggestion was more detailed instructions for building the models. The instructor thought that their difficulties partly reflected their lack of understanding of the processes they were trying to model.
All these activities can be found on the ELI website by using the search facility.

Monday 18 July 2011

Predicting volcanic eruptions

'Take a 'Chance' on the volcano erupting' is our latest Earth Learning Idea. In this activity, pupils measure the force required to burst a  party popper and use this as an analogy for the prediction of  volcanic eruptions. A series of possible events in  the build up of a volcanic eruption is given on  'Chance' cards. These are selected at random and the instructions given on the card should be followed  until the party popper 'erupts'. Through this activity, pupils will discover many of the factors which are associated  with the build up to a volcanic eruption. These  include seismic activity, changes in gas  emissions, swelling of the volcano's surface, and  minor eruptions of tephra (solid particles of  congealed lava, in the form of ash or larger  fragments).
This is one of many ELI activities associated with volcanic eruptions. Try the related ideas which will be shown on the home page for the next two weeks.

Monday 11 July 2011

Subduction of one plate and formation of another

This extension idea has been added to 'Continents in collision; modelling processes at a destructive (convergent) plate margin'. You can add a literal extension to this model by attaching an ‘oceanic plate’ to the moving ‘continent’ that rises out of a slit on the far side of the model – as shown in the photos above.
As one plate is subducted, causing ‘mountains’ to develop as the ‘sediments’ (paper serviettes) are compressed, new plate material is seen forming on the far side of the moving continent. You could colour this blue, to denote the new oceanic plate.
This is one of many activities related to plate tectonics - search our website to find more.

Monday 4 July 2011

How Science works - thinking like William Smith

Out latest ELI is 'William Smith - The Father of English Geology'. This acitivty encourages pupils to try to think like William Smith in order to answer a series of questions. Smith lived in the late 1700s at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the UK. When William Smith was reaching maturity, questions were being asked about the age of the Earth. Beliefs of the time were being challenged. Geology was established as a science at around this time, originally to enquire about the nature of the Earth before and after the Deluge, (Noah's Flood). It is remarkable that William Smith, a poorly-educated Oxfordshire labourer, working alone, managed to survey and record the rocks of England, Wales and part of southern Scotland so accurately, especially as he did most of his travelling by horse-drawn carriage. His original geological map looks very similar to a
modern geological map.
This is one of many activities your pupils can try when considering 'How Science works'.