Science

Science
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The 3-D Universe

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A 2-D map is a great guide here on Earth—and virtually worthless for finding your way around in outer space. Take a 3-D look at mapping our solar system and universe. This Moveable Museum article, available as a printable PDF file, looks at how astronomers use data to create 3-D models of the universe. Explore these concepts further using the recommended resources mentioned in this reading selection.

Material Type: Data Set

Shake Alert!: Making every second count.

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The high school earth and physical science unit moves through an exploration of tectonic plates, why and how they move, and the earthquakes that they cause. As the final project, teams learn about Early Warning Systems for earthquakes and how they have saved millions of lives in other countries. Teams take on a population in Oregon and design a ShakeAlert system to give them the seconds required to prepare for a mega earthquake.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Case Study, Lesson Plan, Reading, Unit of Study

Authors: Holly Lynn, Joe Emery, Lisa Livelybrooks

Anatomy of a Tsunami

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Tsunami waves can be distinguished from ordinary ocean waves by many factors, including the tremendous amount of energy they carry, the great distance between their wave crests, and their capacity to travel at jetliner speeds across an entire ocean. In this interactive from NOVA Online, explore how the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami -- the deadliest in recorded history -- was triggered, how its waves traveled thousands of kilometers largely unchanged, and what happened once the waves reached coastlines both near and far from their source. Grades 6-12 ***Access to Teacher's Domain content now requires free login to PBS Learning Media.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Diagram/Illustration, Interactive

Authors: National Science Foundation, WGBH Educational Foundation

The Big Bang Theory: An Evidence-Based Argument

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This lesson will require students to research the Big Bang Theory and the three main pieces of scientific evidence that support this theory. After students complete their research, they will engage in all steps of the writing process, including prewriting, outlining, revising, and editing. At the conclusion of the lesson, students will create a five paragraph argumentative essay to examine the Big Bang Theory and the scientific evidence that supports this theory. This lesson results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

An Acre in Your Pocket

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This lesson gives students a better perspective as to how acreage is determined. Using the computer in their pocket students learn to calculate area in feet and acres. Using their results the can calculate biomass, board feet per acre, or even the amount of electrical fencing needed to protect a meadow.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Kevin Woodard

Environmental Applications of GIS

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Increasingly volatile climate and weather; vulnerable drinking water supplies; shrinking wildlife habitats; widespread deforestation due to energy and food production. These are examples of environmental challenges that are of critical importance in our world, both in far away places and close to home, and are particularly well suited to inquiry using geographic information systems. In GEOG 487 you will explore topics like these and learn about data and spatial analysis techniques commonly employed in environmental applications. After taking this course you will be equipped with relevant analytical approaches and tools that you can readily apply to your own environmental contexts.

Material Type: Full Course

Author: Rachel Kornak

Geology of the National Parks

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Geysers and grizzlies and glaciers, oh my. The national parks may be America's best idea, saving the finest parts of the nation for everyone to enjoy forever. What better way to learn about the natural world than to tour the parks with us? We'll explore how the mountains and valleys formed and why they often come with volcanoes and earthquakes. You'll see what really killed the dinosaurs and how we can help save their modern relatives in the parks. With film clips, slide shows, and our geological interpretations of classic rock songs, isn't it time for a road trip?

Material Type: Full Course

Authors: Richard Alley, Sridhar Anandakrishnan

Mining Made Simple

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Students simulate operating an iron mine, from choosing property to writing an environmental impact statement to setting up the mining operation. Chocolate chip cookies (with the chocolate chips representing iron ore) are used for this experiment. Students are challenged to operate the most profitable and environmentally sound mine they can.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Interactive

Author: Eric Cohen

Amusement Park Ride: Ups and Downs in Design

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Students design, build and test model roller coasters using foam tubing. The design process integrates energy concepts as they test and evaluate designs that address the task as an engineer would. The goal is for students to understand the basics of engineering design associated with kinetic and potential energy to build an optimal roller coaster. The marble starts with potential energy that is converted to kinetic energy as it moves along the track. The diameter of the loops that the marble traverses without falling out depends on the kinetic energy obtained by the marble.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: C. Shade, Marthy Cyr

Population Growth Curves

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Using Avida-ED freeware, students control a few factors in an environment populated with digital organisms, and then compare how changing these factors affects population growth. They experiment by altering the environment size (similar to what is called carrying capacity, the maximum population size that an environment can normally sustain), the initial organism gestation rate, and the availability of resources. How systems function often depends on many different factors. By altering these factors one at a time, and observing the results, students are able to clearly see the effect of each one.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Jeff Farell, Jennifer Doherty, Wendy Johnson

3 - Energy & Engineering

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In order to contextualize the Energy unit, students are tasked to engineer a bungee cord that will optimize the enjoyment of a doll’s bungee jump. To do this, students first develop the mathematical patterns through inquiry on gravitational energy, kinetic energy, and elastic energy. Once the patterns have been established, students further build on their spreadsheet coding skills, in order to use computational thinking to create a program that will help predict the length of bungee cord necessary for a variety of situations.

Material Type: Unit of Study

Acoustic Mirrors

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Students play and record the “Mary Had a Little Lamb” song using musical instruments and analyze the intensity of the sound using free audio editing and recording software. Then they use hollow Styrofoam half-spheres as acoustic mirrors (devices that reflect and focus sound), determine the radius of curvature of the mirror and calculate its focal length. Students place a microphone at the acoustic mirror focal point, re-record their songs, and compare the sound intensity on plot spectrums generated from their recordings both with and without the acoustic mirrors. A worksheet and KWL chart are provided.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Nick Breen, Steven C. Thedford

MISA HS Sample Item Set - Wind Turbines (PS/ESS)

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Sample high school MISA test item set which uses a physics and earth space science performance expectations.  The Item set focuses on wind turbines and their environmental impacts. It contains 5 questions and one constructed response for a total of 9 points. (Image source: “Wind Turbine” by Painter06 at Pixabay.com.)  

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Authors: Jeremy Haack, MSDE Admin, Melissa Kaye-Kamauff, Laura Garfinkel