DLESE - Resources of Interest
Contributed by the DLESE community in 2005
Each month we present a resource that a community member has suggested for inclusion into the library. Your contributions are what make DLESE a community-owned project. Please do contribute by suggesting your favorite sites. More about selecting the Resource of interest.
The approaching winter solstice in the northern hemisphere provides an opportunity to discuss the changing seasons and Sun/ Earth dynamics with your students. This energy activity from GLOBE—Modeling the Reasons for Seasonal Change—looks at what causes the Earth's seasons, with a focus on the Earth's tilt and spherical shape. (Note: Adobe Acrobat Reader required.) Students learn how sunlight spreads over the Earth at different times of the year, emphasizing the solstices and the equinoxes. Students investigate the effect of the Earth's tilt on the spread of sunlight by modeling different tilts using a three-dimensional polyhedron which they construct from paper, and calculate the relative sunlight intensity received by the Northern and Southern Hemispheres to understand seasonal differences between the hemispheres. The precise moment of the 2005 solstice will be December 21, 2005 at 1:35 P.M. EST (18:35 UT).
Exploring Maps is an interdisciplinary set of materials on mapping for grades 7-12. Students learn basic map-making and map-reading skills and will see how maps can answer fundamental geographic questions: Where am I? What else is here? Where am I going? The map images and activities in this packet can be used in various courses, including geography, history, math, art, English, and the sciences. The images and educational activities have been selected both to enrich knowledge of mapping itself and to present maps as representations of reality.
The 7.6 magnitude earthquake that occurred Saturday, October 8, 2005 near Muzaffarabad, Kashmir (Pakistan) offers opportunities for teaching about earthquakes in the classroom. The seismic activity has caused over 35,000 deaths, 43,000 injured, and widespread devastation in the region. An estimated 2.5 million people are homeless. Aid efforts from around the world are underway and help is beginning to reach the area. Damaged or destroyed roads and bridges make access difficult to some of the most affected locations. The U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquake Hazards Program provides worldwide earthquake activity information and data, including complete information on the Pakistan quake. The USGS site also offers an Earthquakes for Kids site, with activities, science fair project ideas, images, topics, and earthquake facts. Other resources to support learning about earthquake events include Virtual Earthquake, an interactive activity that illustrates how seismic waves are used to determine magnitude and how to locate epicenter (for secondary and undergraduate level students). DLESE's Teachable Topics page offers more resources for teaching about earthquakes.
The Smithsonian Institution created the exhibition Ocean Planet to share with the public what recent research has revealed about the oceans and to encourage ocean conservation. This online booklet of lessons and activities adapts several themes of the exhibition for use in the middle and high school classroom. Ocean Planet has six lesson plans. Sea Secrets explores ocean geography; Sea Connections looks at the plants and animals that live in different marine ecosystems. Ocean Market identifies and values many products of the seas. Pollution Solution examines the effects of an environmental crisis. Stranded Along the Coast explores both natural and human causes of animal strandings. Finally, Reflections on the Sea explores the influence of oceans on language and literature. Each of the the six lesson plans has the same elements: background information; statement of learning objectives; list of required materials; step-by-step procedures; student handouts (in Adobe Acrobat format); and a list of additional resources, including connections to the online version of the Ocean Planet exhibition. The instructional approach in Ocean Planet is interdisciplinary. Lesson plans will work in different classes, from biology and mathematics to geography and social studies. Many activities employ students' writing skills.
The theme for Earth Science Week (October 9-15) this year is Geoscientists Explore our Earth, highlighting the important work that geoscientists do every day and educating the public about geoscience careers. Information kits can be ordered from AGI to help support your classroom or community involvement in this event. Photography, visual arts and essay contests for students offer cash prizes and a subscription to Geotimes Magazine. The Earth Science World site offers on-line access to images, a book center and interactive games in additional to career information.
The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season has been the most active on record; Katrina and Rita both are among the strongest and most destructive hurricanes to ever strike the U.S. This hurricane season continues to cause upheaval in the southeastern Atlantic coast and Gulf Coast areas - Rita hit the Florida Keys as a Category 2 storm and has strengthened to Category 5 as it moves across the Gulf of Mexico towards landfall on the Texas coast, causing widespread evacuation and preparations for severe flooding and destruction in the area. The Tropical Prediction Center of the National Hurricane Center offers updated information on both developing and past storms, forecast tracks, and information about hurricanes and hurricane preparedness. Middle school students can learn about hurricane science and safety with the Hurricane Strike! module, while more advanced students can utilize the multimedia technology of the online meteorology guide Hurricanes. One of DLESE's collections—the NASA Scientific Visualization Studio—offers data, images and animations from previous storms. A collection of links tovisualizations of hurricanes is available from the Teaching Geoscience with Visualizations web site of the On the Cutting Edge Professional Development Program. NOVA Science Now offers an informative 11-minute video about hurricanes and New Orleans that first aired in January 2005. Updates on Katrina recovery by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium are posted on the DLESE website, with links to several other sites that have posted bulletin boards and recovery information.
The space shuttle Discovery successfully returned to Earth on Tuesday, August 9, in the Mojave Desert, 14 days after its launch. Discovery traveled a total of 5.8 million miles during the mission. The mission's array of cameras and sensors enabled a successful and ground-breaking space walk to the shuttle's underside to remove protruding gap filler material from the heat shield, that could have endangered the shuttle's return to Earth. The crew delivered supplies, and outfitted and performed maintenance on the International Space Station. NASA's Return to Flight web site offers up-to-date information and images from the mission, including photos from the successful landing. The Ultimate Field Trip offers an astronaut's view of Earth, providing a journal and images taken on previous missions from the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. Students can learn about the historical impact of space exploration in Scholastic's Challenging the Space Frontier activity which includes a timeline of initial efforts to explore worlds beyond our own.
Related news: On Friday, August 12, NASA launched the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will gather more Mars data than all previous combined missions. The primary goal of the mission is to continue searching for evidence of water on the red planet, a key to learning about the possibilities of life on Mars. After a seven-month journey—arriving in March 2006—the satellite will orbit Mars for four years, using three high resolution cameras and a radar sounder that detects subsurface ice and water. The satellite is capable of transmiting data back to Earth at 10 times the rate of previous probes, and will serve as a communications relay station for future projected launches of an additional rover in 2007 and a science laboratory in 2009.
Two prototype ready-to-use DLESE Teaching Boxes are available: Evidence for Plate Tectonics, and Essentials of Weather. A Teaching Box is an online assembly of interrelated learning concepts, digital resources, and cohesive narration that helps bridge the gap between individual resources and understanding. Instructors and students can pick a topic, view the concepts that build an understanding of that topic, explore online resources that support learning of those concepts, and benefit from the narration (the glue) that weaves concepts, activities, and background information together into a complete teaching/learning story. Students are excited to discover and engage their curiousty about science. Additional Teaching Boxes on ocean and earthquake related topics are currently under development.
A collaborative project among DLESE, the University of California's Berkeley Museum of Paleontology, San Francisco State University, USGS, and seven San Francisco area middle/high school teachers, the Teaching Box project holds great promise as a powerful model for science teacher professional development. Teaching Boxes provide a pathway for making science relevant to the daily lives of educators and students by incorporating lessons around current Earth events and real-time data. They are freely available online, are ready to use or adapt for the classroom, and can support state and national standards.
The Earth Exploration Toolbook exists to support the use of scientific datasets and data analysis tools by the broader educational community. The Toolbook provides a collection of investigations using Earth science datasets and scientific tools that can be used in an educational context. Each chapter in the Toolbook provides step-by-step instructions on how to obtain and modify the specific datasets needed for the exercise, how to install, if necessary, and use the analysis or visualization tools needed to explore the data, and how to analyze the data to study a specific Earth science process or concept. Each chapter lists the learning goals, inquiry standards and content standards for each activity and provides a sample outcome of conducting the activity. Suggestions for further exploration of the data and other ways to use the tool are also provided. The chapters are designed for 5-12 and undergraduate college level.
Are you looking for resources that can help you incorporate Earth Day 2005 into your lesson planning? April 22 is Earth Day and it is a great opportunity for your students to focus on local or global environmental issues. The mission of Earth 911: Making Every Day Earth Day is to provide citizens with the environmental knowledge they need to improve their quality of life. The site offers information on a wide range of environmental topics including recycling, household hazardous waste, water quality, composting, air pollution prevention, fire prevention, green shopping, and mercury pollution. Earth 911's For Kids site offers grade-level resources, environmental news links, games and activities for kids, and local news and events. The Lorax's Save the Trees Game is a fun resource for kids at elementary levels. Look for other Earth Day related activities and events for classrooms and communities at Earth Day Network.
Journey North engages students in a global study of wildlife migration and seasonal change. K-12 students share their own field observations with classmates across North America. They track the coming of spring through the migration patterns of Monarch butterflies, bald eagles, robins, hummingbirds, manatees, whooping cranes, other birds and mammals, the budding of plants, changing sunlight, and other natural events. Standards-based lesson plans, activities and information help students make local observations and fit them into a global context.
Local record snowfalls, ice storms, and their travel-related impacts are creating a memorable winter for much of the U.S. All About Snow offers general information about snow, as well as information on blizzards, ice storms, and avalanches. Several DLESE resources offer students the opportunity to investigate previous blizzards, including Snowstorm Hits Seattle and Second Guessing Mother Nature: Forecasting the Surprise Snow of January 2000. A module on winter weather forecasting for advanced students uses a January 1999 snowstorm as a case study. See also Winter's Wallop: New Approaches to Cold-Season Impacts, on research supporting severe winter weather prediction and mitigation.
A devastating megathrust earthquake of magnitude 9.0 occurred early Sunday morning, Dec. 26, 2004, off the coast of Sumatra. The quake set off a tsunami that crossed the Indian Ocean, resulting in severe damage in eleven countries. The number of people killed in this disaster continues to climb above 200,000 as those listed as missing are declared dead. While recovery efforts are underway to care for survivors, scientists are examining the series of events that resulted in this natural disaster. General information on tsunamis can be found at Tsunami! and an animation at the Waves of Destruction site looks at the relationship between earthquakes and tsunamis. Additional teaching materials can be found at Understanding Tsunamis, Tsunami: The Big Wave, and Tsunami Visualizations.
The selection process for the Resource of interest considers the following factors, in order: