Monday, 26 December 2011

Earthlearningidea in 2011

Earthlearningidea has continued to grow in 2011. In March we published our 100th activity with "'Crystallisation' in a pudding dish" and in October the number of downloads of our activities passed half a million. Also in 2011, our activities started to be translated into Portuguese and German. We shall continue to publish a new activity every two weeks throughout 2012.
For this last post of the year, the Earthlearningidea team would like to thank all the people who have made these achievements possible.
Thank you!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Modelling energy transmission in seismic waves

'Merry waves - all year round; modelling how the energy of seismic waves is transmitted' is our latest new ELI. At the end of the activity pupils can:-
• describe how energy is transmitted in the form of waves;
• note that there is no macroscopic displacement of mass involved in the process;
• explain how P and S waves move though the Earth’s interior;
• explain how a tsunami wave propagates though a mass of water.
This is one on many Earthlearningideas about Earthquakes and earthquake waves.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Subduction of underwater mountains

Amazing new images from the depths of the Pacific Ocean reveal one of Earth's most violent processes: the destruction of massive underwater mountains. They expose how tectonic action is dragging giant volcanoes into the ocean trench. The volcanoes are strung across several thousand kilometres of ocean floor and are moving westward on the Pacific tectonic plate at up to 6cm per year.
The extraordinary scene was captured along the Tonga Trench during a research expedition last summer. The trench is a highly active fault line running north from New Zealand towards Tonga and Samoa.
The video clip featured here could be used with any of our Plate tectonics activities

Monday, 12 December 2011

How Science works - famous people

Did you know that we have published a number of ELI activities about famous people who have contributed much to science? These include:-
Charles Darwin - Darwin's 'big soil idea' and
Darwin's 'big coral atoll idea'
James Hutton - James Hutton - or 'Mr. Rock Cycle'?
Mary Anning - Mary Anning - Mother of Palaeontology
Alfred Wegener and J. Tuzo Wilson - Wegener's 'continental drift' meets Wilson's ' plate tectonics'
William Smith - William Smith - 'The Father of English Geology'
Concerning William Smith, did you know that version 2 of iGeology includes a reproduction of the William Smith 1815 map? There is a 'fade-in' slider that allows you to change the transparency so you can compare William Smith's map with the current BGS map.
There is also a brief biography of William Smith.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Use a banana to simulate geological structures

Our new ELI this week is 'Banana benders'. Rocks can be folded into many shapes and can be broken by faulting. These fold and fault structures can be seen in mountain ranges, cliffs and even in small hand specimens. Try using bananas to see how these structures may be formed. Ask the pupils to draw or photograph their results and then try to label the fold and fault structures using the diagrams provided.
This is one of many Earth energy/processes activities you can find on our website.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Video clip - Curious creatures

Following last week's new activity 'Curious creatures', we have added a video clip. This comes from the official Burgess Shale website where you can find more information about these amazing animals. Pikaia was a primitive chordate and one of our earliest ancestors.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Note for all our Mapwork users

We have now completed the table showing the progression and spiralling of spatial thinking skills demonstrated by the Earthlearningidea ‘Geological mapwork from scratch’ exercises and the ‘Geological mapwork from models’ exercises. There are new pdfs on the website giving the completed table on the three Geological mapwork from scatch exercises and on five of the Geological mapwork from models exercises.
As you can see from the table, there are eight Geological mapwork from models activities. Numbers 6, 7 and 8 will be published in January and February next year. There are also two further mapwork exercises shown on the table.
If you need any of these exercises before they are published, to complete your teaching of the topic, please contact us.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Curious creatures - the Cambrian explosion of life

The new ELI today is 'Curious creatures; using fossil and modern evidence to work out the lifestyles of extinct animals'. Pupils are asked to try to compare the features of animals today with those of Cambrian fossils - can they then predict the lifestyles of the extinct animals?
Life on Earth suddenly diversified around 500 million years ago   when shells and skeletons appeared for the first time in the fossil record. All animal life today probably evolved from some of these creatures, while others became extinct. Evolution is often thought of as a simple line or chain of ancestors and descendants, when it actually consists of many branches, most of which have become extinct.
This is one of many activities about the Evolution of Life, free to download from our website.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Power through the window

All the world needs energy, and more energy is needed by more people every day. Electrical energy is needed to supply homes and industry. Electricity cannot be stored and has to be generated as needed from other energy sources. The rate at which other energy is converted into electricity is called power. The structures which generate electricity must be sited somewhere. Which of them could be sited in the view through your window?
Try 'Power through the window; which power source might be built in the view you can see from your window?
This activity requires pupils to work out which of the power sources COULD be sited in the view they can see – before they decide if they SHOULD be sited there. Most people wouldn’t want to see a power source through their window – but they all have to be sited somewhere! Are you a 'Nimby'?
Visit our website for over 100 more thought-provoking teaching ideas.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Margarine mountain-building

The new ELI today is 'Margarine mountain-building; making mountains every time you make a sandwich'.
The activity uses materials that pupils use every day to remind them how folds and mountain belts are formed, as surface and near
surface materials are scraped up during plate subduction.
Your pupils could also try the three activities related to this new ELI - they are listed on the home page of the website.
Ask your pupils to think of other food analogies for Earth processes and Earth materials; let us know about them to publish as future Earthlearningideas.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

More than half a million Earth Learning Idea downloads!

Celebration time! By the end of October, over half a million ELI activities had been downloaded!
The maps and graph above can be viewed on our website.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Extension ideas for 'Party time for volcanoes' and 'Blow up for own volcano'

The chart above shows some results for 'Party time for volcanoes'. These have been published on our website in the extension material for this activity. As you can see 3.5kg is the weight to beat!
Backyard volcano has also been published as an extension idea to 'Blow up your own volcano'.
These are just two of the many hands-on practical ideas you can use to demonstrate volcanic activity - search our website for more.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Latest Earthlearningidea is 'Danger - quicksands!'

The new ELI this week is 'Danger - quicksands! Why do some rocks give way when it rains hard?' This activity investigates pore water pressure in a sediment and demonstrates how raised pore water pressure can weaken apparently strong rocks/sediments, causing subsidence in buildings or landslides. This ELI could be used to illustrate hazards of a geological nature, in a science or geography lesson.
This is one of many hands-on practical activities in both the Earth Energy and Natural Hazards Earthlearningidea categories.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Solar eclipse

Have you tried 'Why does the sun disappear?' This activity demonstrates what happens when the Moon hides the Sun. After carrying out this ELI, pupils can appreciate that the Sun and the Moon are of vastly different sizes even though, when they appear in
the sky together, they seem to be of comparable diameter. They can explain that a small object that is near the Earth can block out a much larger object that is much further away. Also, they can do simple calculations to work out the model Sun's diameter.
This is one of the activities in the category 'Earth in space'. Can you add any more ideas?

Monday, 10 October 2011

Fifth in our mapwork from models series - folded rocks

Our mapwork from models series continues with investigating areas with folded rocks. Pupils use the four block models from previous exercises to draw in and appreciate how folded geological structures appear on landforms of increasing complexity.
The images shown here come from the ELI 'Himalayas in 30 seconds'.
For lots more Earth-related activities, most requiring minimal resources, visit our website.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

'Volcanic eruption' challenge

One of the members of our support group from the British Geological Survey reports that he has been using the ELI 'Party time for volcanoes: how much force does it take to set off a party popper 'volcano'? at the World Skills 2011 event in London. He thinks a new world record has been set! Tori from Esher High School managed to load 3.5kg on one popper before it 'erupted'. He adds that he does not think there's anything particularly robust about the poppers that were being used; the others have given results from 400g to 1900g with an average of about 1150g. This just shows that accurate prediction of a volcanic eruption remains almost impossible and it is seldom possible to give precise timings of anticipated events, to allow the evacuation of populations to safety.
So - 3.5kg is the record so far unless - - - - - ?

Monday, 3 October 2011

Groundwater - pollution model

Have you tried 'From rain to spring: water from the ground'? This ELI activity demonstrates how water flows through the ground - and how it can be used and polluted. Pupils pour water into the cups and try to predict where a 'spring' will appear. Then try burying some toxic waste at different depths and ask the pupils to predict where it will appear. Download the activity for the full details. There is a short video which shows the activity in action although it is quite hard to notice the 'pollution'. To view this, go to our Resources and Environment category and click on 'video' for this activity. If anyone can send us a better video clip, we would be grateful!
This is one of over a hundred free-to-download Earth-related activities on our website.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Mary Anning - Mother of Palaeontology

Our new ELI is all about Mary Anning and her exciting fossil discoveries on the Dorset coast in the early 19th century. 'Mary Anning- Mother of Palaeontology; a woman in a man's world' is an activity which has a series of questions to help pupils to think about Mary Anning and her times. It emphasises the historical difficulties of a woman working in a man's world and shows that social history can play an important part in scientific development and advancement. Gender has been a critical factor in scientific discovery, and may still be so today. Let us have your views?
Other activities related to this one are shown on the home page of the ELI website.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Geocamp - field activities

GEOCAMP is a website devoted to field activities in Geology. It is a free-access website available for both teachers and students who carry out field exercises as part of their teaching or learning. It is an hypermedia resource in Catalan, Spanish and English, containing original teaching materials and several links with all kinds of topics related to field exercises in the Earth Sciences.
The website includes a desktop publishing tool - the GEOCAMP-EDITOR  - a software application that permits the user to load, from anywhere in the world, the text and figures that build up the description of a point or route of geological interest. Once information is loaded, a document is automatically generated. This document can be accessed as HTML format or downloaded as a PDF to be used as a field guide.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Be an environmental detective

Have you tried 'Environmental detective'? This is an 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. After completing the activity pupils can use their imagination to visualise what may be going on seen and unseen in a coastal desert environment and relate modern processes to the record of rocks and fossils. Able pupils may realise that a modern lateral sequence of environments may become preserved in a vertical succession.
Other activities in the 'Geological time' category may be found on our website.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Krakatoa - volcanic eruption and tsunamis

'The balloon goes up at Krakatoa' is our new ELI activity. You require a tank and a balloon to simulate the huge tsunamis caused by the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. While the eruption itself was awesome, it was the tsunamis that caused all the deaths, so how
were these tsunamis formed? Nobody really knows the exact mechanism, since no-one was there at the time. One theory is that, after the caldera had been formed, a side of the volcano slumped into the sea, causing the tsunamis. A second theory is that, when the magma chamber collapsed, huge volumes of sea water poured into the space and then slopped out again, causing the tsunamis. If this last theory is correct, you can recreate your own Krakatoan tsunamis using this ELI.
There are many free-to-download activities about volcanic eruptions and tsunamis on our website. To find them you can either 'Search topics' or 'Search activities.'

Monday, 5 September 2011

More evaluations of ELIs

The following are more evaluations from workshops held in New Mexico. 
Rock, rattle and roll
We set up a ‘competition’ by asking for a prediction of which rock would erode most easily.  The two students made different choices.  As one of the students noted: It opened the door for a quick mention of experimentor bias.
Suggestion:  Begin with the rocks that are not going to erode easily and work your way to the ones that do.
Make your own rock
- We had a difficult time getting the sugar and salt cemented sediments to dry out.  We did heat them slightly but they were still damp at the end of the week.  It did open a discussion of why they did not work and how to improve the activity.
- The salt and sugar used for the other rocks did not really keep the sand together so we were not able to test them by dropping a ball bearing on them.
Suggestions: Be very specific on the amount of ‘cement’ to put into a cup.
… have other materials to make rocks out of.  Make one with white glue (Elmer’s glue is the common brand here in the States) and another with candle wax.
What was it like to be there – in the rocky world?
I liked being able to visualize the environment by looking at the rock.
Suggestion:  Students could write a story or essay about the environment that rock was in.
From an orange to the whole Earth
- realized that one object can be made up of layers with different density.
- the model also helped to visualize the Earth is made up of layers of different density.
From clay balls to the structure of the Earth
- The models built by the class did not work as well as expected.
Need to have a larger variation in weight between the two balls.
- Thinner layer of clay over a larger weighted center in order to be able to test with a magnet.
Magnetic Earth
We used a magnetized needle instead of a “magnaprobe.” The group struggled to understand the instructions.  I believe that part of the problem is because they truly do not understand the magnetic field; they could not adjust or adapt and did not understand the instructions. With guidance the students did locate the poles and the equator.  We then lightly marked those on the clay ball.  We had less success trying to measure the angles between the equator and poles.
- Directions were very confusing and took the entire class to figure out how things should look.
Better directions, more visual pictures and diagrams.
Use the diagram from activity Frozen magnetism.
Frozen magnetism
- The way the iron filings stuck out of the wax really showed the effects of the magnet.
- Magnetic field is seen 3 dimensionally.
- Was very well written and easy to understand.
Partial melting
The wax was a neat way to show how solid rocks when heated can become liquid and then cool and separate from the rocks that did not melt.
Learned a lot about the melting points of different rocks and how that affects what we find on the surface of the Earth today.
The continental jigsaw puzzle
Hands-on activity that really allows the students to learn by trial and error.
Magnetic stripes
When doing this activity referred back to Frozen magnetism.  This was when students had more questions and were trying to put it together and began to understand why magnetic stripes are important.
- Learned how rocks retain their magnetism long after they are formed and even after the poles have changed.
- During this activity we were able to see that as the magnetic fields arise they also change polarity from north to south.  Still some misconceptions….
- I learned more about magnetic alignments in rocks of the ocean floor.  The magnetic field has been reversed in Earth history and rocks still bear the magnetism from when they first formed. 
Suggestion: A step-by-step instruction for the construction of the model.  The illustration or diagram is not adequate.
If you have comments and suggestions about Earth Learning Idea activities, then please let us know.  

Monday, 29 August 2011

Make your own sloping ridge and valley

The fourth in our series of mapwork from models has been published on our website today - 'Sloping ridge and valley'. Pupils are shown this photo of a ridge/valley area in the Arrochar Alps in the SW Highlands of Scotland, and are asked to cut out the 3D paper model of the landform. The geology of the area is described and they are asked to draw it accurately on to the model. There are two different versions of the geology so pupils either turn the first model inside out or use another model. Pupil are often so pleased with all their mapwork models that they keep them for later revision.
There are over 100 practical, hands-on activities on our website!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Evaluations of some ELI activities

Following Earth science workshops held in New Mexico, students were asked to complete a short evaluation of every ELI conducted in the class.  The evaluations were done at the end of each ‘unit’ and students sat and discussed the activities as they wrote up the evaluations.  They were asked to answer 4 questions:
(1) In a sentence or two – what did you learn from this ELI?
(2) What worked for you?
(3) What did not work?
(4) Any suggestions for changes or improvements?
The comments below are taken directly from student’s written comments.
Permeability of soils – The great soil race (Instructor presented)
- Teachers liked the ease of set up. 
- We only did two samples and teachers suggested additional samples or compacting one of the soils, so that students could see a direct comparison of compacted and uncompacted.
Maps from models – Cuesta (Instructor presented)
- Doing the model allowed me to visualize what a cuesta is supposed to look like.  A cuesta is steep on one side and has a gentle slope on the other.
- …clearly showed the characteristics of a cuesta.  It was easy to identify them during the next activity (Geological postcards) and imagine how cross sections would work.
Geological postcards 1 - Granite and Chalk (Instructor presented)
- We went in the field to look at rocks and structures in the area around the university.  Lots of cuestas here to observe.
- Teachers liked the field aspect and felt they learned more from being in the field than from pictures in a book or using hand specimens.
- We reviewed geologic maps of the areas we visited before the field trip and one suggestion was more map work before going in the field, so students understand the maps.
Rock Detective (Instructor presented)
- … having a rock that I really had to think about.  It was not really like the other rocks where a simple scratch or look through a magnifying glass could show you where it went.
Rock cycle through the window
Teachers decided to actually go outside and not just look through the window. 
- Going outside worked really well it got us out and really looking around explaining the vocabulary words and the examples worked really well, too.
The rock cycle in wax
- I learned the basic processes of the rock cycle and how to demonstrate it to students using common items.
Suggestion:  Add questions or ask students to make predictions.
Why do igneous rocks have different crystal sizes?
- … were really amazed at how you can actually see the crystals forming on the slide.
- We were able to predict that the longer time it took the crystals to grow, the larger the crystals
Suggestion:  Have students draw the crystals from the room temperature and cold slides while they wait for the warm slide to cool enough for the crystals to form.
The unfair ‘build your own crystal’ race
- Students are able to see when the model is cooled quickly the crystals are smaller and when the crystals are cooled with time the crystals tend to be a bit larger.
Suggestion:  could easily modify to use mini-marshmallows or gum drops and toothpicks
Metamorphism – that’s Greek for ‘change of shape’ isn’t it?
- We used marshmallows instead of foam balls.
- I used too many marshmallows for the initial presentations
- Some rocks can be squeezed and shaped into layers or squeezed and change shape completely.
Squeezed out of shape
- …we learned that fossils can be distorted in many ways.  Making the mold and then distorting it helps to realize that if the fossil is between two things that cause pressure it will more than likely be distorted.
- Fun to make and get to keep the end product.  Students would really like that.
Suggestion:  Make a plaster of paris cast of the undeformed fossil for comparison of the casts.
These are just some of the 44 evaluations sent to us - more later! 
If you have comments and suggestions about Earth Learning Idea ctivities, then please let us know. 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Shaken but not stirred?

Our latest Earth Learning Idea activity is 'Shaken but not stirred?' This is a teacher-led demonstration of the relationship between the frequency of the shaking of the 'ground' and the movement of model 'buildings' of various heights. The activity can be used to help students to explore the effects of earthquakes in densely populated areas, and to dispel misconceptions about the relative safety of high rise buildings in seismically active regions.
There are lots of other exciting activities in our Natural Hazards category on the website. If you have any personal experiences of being in buildings when an earthquake strikes, please do let us know.

Monday, 8 August 2011

River erosion as seen in Uganda

Have you tried Earth Learning Ideas 'Mighty river in a small gutter' which investigates how flowing water erodes soft sediment, or 'Rock, rattle and roll' which demonstrates that some rocks are more resistant to erosion than others?
Pupils at St Paul Junior School, Luyanzi, Uganda were lucky enough to study river erosion closely by visiting the Kalagala Falls on the River Nile. Here there are spectacular waterfalls and rapids in the river. The following photo shows the river being constrained by resistant rocks on either side.
Here you can see the start of the waterfalls:-
If you want to run some fieldwork outside, do try 'Earth science out of doors'.
If you have some photos of pupils doing fieldwork, we shall be pleased to display them.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Sixth activity in our Mapwork series

Our latest Earth Learning Idea is 'Geological mapwork from models 3: valley with horizontal floor'. This is the sixth in our series of simple introductory geological map exercises. Pupils are shown a photograph of a flat-bottomed valley and then are asked to cut out a 3D paper model of the landform. They then plot the geology on to the model from the description given. This exercise challenges three dimensional/spatial thinking, since the map can only be completed by students realising that the limestone/mudstone boundary appears horizontal on the southern cross section and so cuts the valley sides. The boundaries can then be joined by a straight line on the surface of the model.
This is one of many activities in our Investigating the Earth category.

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'.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

International co-operation for the translation of ELIs

A successful procedure for taking on-line earth science educational resources from the UK, translating them into Chinese in the United States and disseminating them across China from Lanzhou, using a server in Macau has been put into place.  The original idea is now a reality; this is a landmark occasion for international Earth science cooperation!!
Click on 'Chinese (Mandarin) to see the progress of ELI translations into Chinese. Many thanks from the Earth Learning Idea team to all the people involved in this project.

Monday, 20 June 2011

New ELI - Comparison between the chemistry of the human body and the Earth

Our latest Earth Learning Idea activity is 'What am I made of?'. Pupils make a comparison between the chemistry of the human body and the Earth. First they are asked to assemble a jigsaw puzzle of the elements in the human body. These are in approximately the same proportions as the elements' percentages in the body. Did you know you have the equivalent of nearly a leg-full of hydrogen and the equivalent of a nose full of sulfur? Pupils often don't realise that that are made of the same chemical elements as the rest of the Earth.
Many more activities for all age ranges can be found on our website.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Rock cycle through the window

Have you tried 'Rock cycle through the window; the rock processes you might be able to see - and those you can't'?
Pupils are asked to consider each of the major rock cycle processes in turn and decide whether or not evidence for these can be seen through the window – if so, what evidence?
You might like to reinforce this rock cycle discussion by using the ELI, 'The rock cycle in wax - using a candle to demonstrate the rock cycle processes'.
There are many activities on our website which demonstrate rock cycle processes. Try our search engine to find them.

Monday, 6 June 2011

More Mapwork from models - a cuesta

Today's ELI is 'Geological mapwork from models 2: cuesta with simple geology'. When they have completed this activity, pupils will be able to add geological data to a 3D block model of a cuesta - a ridge with slopes of different angles. They will be able to link up the data with geological boundaries and interpret these into a 3D picture of the geology. There are two versions, one with horizontal strata and one with dipping strata.
By actually making the model and adding the geology, pupils appreciate the link between tough/weak rocks and topography. They learn a lot and enjoy doing it!
There are lots more activities which pupils enjoy on our website.

Monday, 30 May 2011

ELI in Portuguese!

We are extremely pleased to also announce today that lots of Earth Learning Ideas are now available in Portuguese. Click on the homepage of our website and follow the link.
The translations have been carried out by Professor Celso Dal Re Carneiro and his team from Departamento de Geociencias Aplicadas ao Ensino Instituto de Geociencias - Unicamp, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil. Thank you all very much!

ELI in German!

We are delighted to announce that Earth Learning Idea activities are now available in German. Follow the link from our homepage and then - 'Liste aller Earth Learning Ideas'.
We are very grateful to Dirk Felzmann and his team from the Leibniz University, Hannover for translating the activities. It is an on-going project so more translations will be available regularly.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

ELI in Argentina

José Sellés Martínez - of the Dept. of Geology of the University of Buenos Aires recently presented some Earth Learning Ideas at a Science Fair for teachers. He says that considering this has been a "shaking" year for the Earth, he selected all activities related to earthquakes and tsunamis. The photograph shows him demonstrating the 'Brickquake'.
He said that one of the most successful activities he tried was "human molecules" because he did not alert the teachers about what was going to happen. When he pushed the last person in the line, the wave propagation took them completely unaware! They laughed a lot, but they will never forget what "a pressure wave" means. He adds that they also had a good discussion about the power and limitations of models. It was a very successful session.
Note: José Sellés Martínez (Pepe) is responsible for the translation of ELIs into Spanish. Thank you Pepe!

Monday, 23 May 2011

The fourth activity in our Mapwork series

Our latest ELI is 'Geological mapwork from models 1: plain with simple geology'. Pupils are shown a photograph of a plain and then
are asked to cut out a 3D paper model of a flat plain-like area. There are two versions, one with horizontal rocks and one with dipping rocks. A table of the progression and spiralling of spatial thinking skills involved through this series is given on the final page of this ELI.
Related activities can be seen on our home page.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Earth in space

The image shows the Milky Way taken from PhotopicSkySurvey. You can zoom in and out of the image, look around and superimpose names.
Have you tried any of our ELI Earth in Space activities?
Craters on the Moon
Playground planets
Why does the Sun disappear?
Have you got some good ideas for some more activities in this category? Please send them to us if you have either via the 'comments' on this post or by email.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Geological mapwork - third in the series

Today, we have published our third Geological Mapwork from scratch activity. This one investigates a valley with dipping geology. Pupils will be able to draw their own cross sections and 3D models. They are shown a photograph of a straight valley and are then given a simple geological map of such a landform, with beds dipping towards the south. They are also encouraged to use the British Geological Survey's OpenGeoscience maps - instructions for doing this are given.
The drawing of these topographical and geological cross sections involves spatial thinking skills. The more complex the cross sections become, the more spatial interpretation is needed, including interpolation and extrapolation skills.
This latest activity is one of many that can be found on our website.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Following last week's glacial/periglacial ELI

On our current glacial/periglacial theme, have you tried 'Grinding and gouging: how moving ice can grind away rocks'? After trying this activity, pupils will be able to
• explain that ice alone will not scratch rock;
• demonstrate that ice carrying sediment will scratch rock;
• realise that ice will scrape any soil and weathered, loose material from the surface of the underlying rock;
• work out the possible direction of ice movement;
• show that other evidence is needed to determine the actual direction of ice movement;
• explain how a valley glacier could erode a deep, U- shaped valley, given enough time.
This is one of many Earth-related teaching ideas in the Earth energy category on our website.

Monday, 25 April 2011

New ELI - Glacial and periglacial landscapes

Our latest Earth Learning Idea is 'Evidence from the deep freeze - under or near the ice sheets'. Pupils are given photographs of glacial and periglacial landscapes and are encouraged to extract the evidence for former environments. When the activity is complete, the pupils can describe landscape features formed as a direct result of the action of moving ice and contrast these with landscapes produced under periglacial conditions.
This is another activity to add to our growing number in the Earth processes or Earth energy category.
Visit our website for lots more hands-on Earth-related activities.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Evolution of the atmosphere - more

This video clip is mentioned as a useful link from last week's ELI activity. 'Earth's atmosphere - step by step evolution'.
All comments and suggestions about this activity will be gratefully received.

Monday, 11 April 2011

New ELI - Evolution of Earth's atmosphere

The latest Earth Learning Idea is 'Earth's atmosphere - step by step evolution'. This activity uses a physical model to show the development of our current atmosphere. Pupils are shown the pie chart above which shows the composition of our atmosphere today. They are then asked to model with coloured balls or counters the composition of the primeval atmosphere, details of which are provided. They then consider what happened to the water vapour, carbon dioxide and sulfur oxides. How did oxygen appear in the atmosphere?
Related activities in the category 'Earth as a system' can be found on our website.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Rock cycle through the window

Have you tried the ELI - 'Rock cycle through the window'?
Pupils are asked to consider each of the major rock cycle processes in turn and decide whether or not evidence for these can be seen through the window – if so, what evidence? Of course, this activity can be carried out outside the window too. Surface rock cycle processes affect the whole surface environment; they are active for much of
the time and can be seen in action. Deep rock cycle processes cannot be seen in action – they have to be inferred from the characteristics of their products. By looking for the evidence, pupils understand that these are not theoretical processes, but they are real and happening all around them all the time.
This is one of many freely downloadable Earth Learning Idea activies. Try our search engine to find a particular topic. Please let us know if it is not there!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Geological mapwork continued

The latest ELI is the second in our geological mapwork from scratch series; 'valley with simple geology - draw your own cross sections and geological 3D model'
Pupils are shown a photograph of a straight valley, a simple landform. They are given a very simple geological map of such a landform, with
horizontal beds. They are asked to draw topographical cross sections of the valley, adding the geology to produce geological cross sections.
As the cross-section drawing progresses, it involves more interpolation and more three-dimensional thinking skills. Pupils will realise that all the geological boundaries and therefore all the beds are horizontal. This will allow them to complete the 3D block diagram successfully.
Many more investigative activities can be found on our website.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Two ELI workshops in Italy

On 15th and 16th March the Istituto Sacro Cuore di Napoli was host to two Earth Learning Idea workshops run by Dr. Roberto Greco.
Lots of activities were carried out including,
'From clay balls to the structure of the Earth (ELI+)'
'Make your own rock'
'Laying down the principles'
'Himalayas in 30 seconds!'
'Rock, rattle and roll ...'
And, in Naples, of course - 'Eruption through the window' with Mount Vesuvius in the background!
Dr. Greco says that these two-hour workshops were really effective and involved the teachers in the use of these activities.
Many more practical, investigative activities can be found on our website.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Japan - tsunami and earthquake

This photo shows images of Yagawahama, Oshika Peninsula, before and after the tsunami struck the coastline. Click here for similar photos.
The earthquake struck on 11th March, 2011 at 5.46 a.m. - 38.322N 142.369E. It occurred 129km off Sendai, Honshu at a depth of 32km. Its magnitude was 8.9 - 9.0. The tsunami height was 10m and, to date, the estimated death toll is 18,000 people.
The following Earth Learning Ideas are relevant to teaching about this natural disaster:-
Tsunami through the window - what would you see, what would you feel?
Tsunami - what controls the speed of the wave?
Earthquake through the window - what would you see, what would you feel?
Plate tectonics through the window (ELI+)
For more actvities, search our website.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Conical hill - geological mapwork

Our latest ELI is 'Geological mapwork from scratch 1: a conical hill'. This guides students through the process of drawing their own topographical and geological cross sections from maps. It is the first of a series introducing simple geological mapwork. A table of the progression and spiralling of spatial thinking skills involved through the series is given on the final page.
This is one of many activities listed in our 'Investigating the Earth' category.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Distortion in rocks after Earth movements

Have you tried the Earthlearningidea 'Squeezed out of shape; detecting distortion after rocks have been affected by Earth movements'? A carefully made mould of a shell is deliberately distorted before a plaster cast is made, producing an artificial ‘fossil’. This represents the squeezing which often takes place when sedimentary rocks, with their included fossils, are affected by strong lateral pressures in the Earth, e.g. during mountain-building at active plate boundaries.
Search the website for other activities related to metamorphism and plate movements.

Monday, 28 February 2011

100th ELI! Simulating the formation and growth of crystal lattices

Our hundredth ELI activity is 'Crystallisation in a pudding dish'. This is a teacher-led demonstration of the formation of regular patterns with spherical objects, akin to the way in which crystal lattices may be produced in nature. The regular pattern formed by the sweets represents the arrangement of atoms in a crystal. The longer the time available for the spheres to form such a lattice, the bigger and better formed the crystal will be, as shown by the quartz crystals and regular arrangement of the sweets in the photo above. The volcanic glass shown has no crystalline structure at all; the sweets have had no time to form a regular lattice. One of the great advantages of this activity is that you can eat the chocolates at the end!
This is one of several activities about crystallisation - see the related activities listed on our home page.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Monday, 21 February 2011

Well-travelled friends sending geological postcards

You have received two postcards from around the world. One friend has visited areas with spectacular sandstone scenery and the other has been to limestone landscapes. Can you work out which postcard is which and give reasons for your answers? Which landscape is shown on the postcard above? This is the latest ELI extension following Geological postcards 2.
Use our new ELI search engine to find related topics.

Monday, 14 February 2011

ELI Search facility and New ELI

Our latest activity is 'The unfair 'build your own crystal' race. It is unfair because some groups of pupils have more time to complete the task than others. This is a quick game which can be used as a lesson starter to show that the more time there is available to ‘build’ a crystal or model, the larger it will become.
You can find activities related to this on the new-look ELI home page.
We have also added a 'Search activities' facility to the site. This will make finding the Earth-related topic you want much easier.
As ever, we should appreciate your comments and suggestions - contact us.

Monday, 7 February 2011

How could you become fossilised?

This photo is of the 4th century Tollund Man. He was preserved in a peat bog in Denmark. Have you tried the Earth Learning Idea 'How could I become fossilised?'? The activity encourages pupils to think through the fossilisation process.What would happen to your body if you fell into a river or the sea and died? The story is quite gruesome at first. Did you know that 99.9% of dead creatures are eaten and broken up and never become fossilised? It soon becomes apparent that the environment in which something dies is crucial to its fossilisation potential. To be classified as a true fossil, the object must have been preserved for at least 10,000 years. Therefore Tollund Man is not a fossil but he can be used to illustrate the principles of the process.
There are lots of ELI activities about fossils - click here for a list.