Sunday, February 15, 2009

Teaching Life Zones in the Ocean

A fun way to teach the Ocean Life Zones is with a simple presentation project.

Use a simple study guide to introduce the topic.
As soon as a student has the first page finished, ask them line up by you for a Teacher Edit. Assign them points for the work.

Then assign that student an animal from one of the life zones. Each student researches the animal, makes a "postcard" of their animal on a 4 x 6 note card, including a sketch, and then prepares a short presentation on their animal.

After each presentation, the "postcard" is taped on a large mock-up of the life zones diagram shown in the study guide. You can sketch the diagram in chalk on the chalkboard or draw on a piece of large paper. The rest of the class takes notes on the Notes Page. Hand out the Notes Page during the research phase so they know what needs to be in their Presentation.

HINT: Assign the "coolest" deep-sea animals to the most reluctant scholars and they usually will be willing to participate.

Click here for the Study Guide.
Click here for the Study Guide answers.
Click here for the Student Notes Page.
Click here for a good PowerPoint on this subject. Fun "What Am I?" at the end. Show after presentations!

Be sure to check out the National Geographic channel on YouTube for many wonderful short videos about the ocean!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Teaching Climagraphs

Climagraphs, Climographs, Climograms, Climagrams! Which is it! Actually, I've seen all of the above. The most common is Climographs. They are lots of fun for kids once they begin to understand them.

Basically, a Climograph is a graph that plots temperature and precipitation on the same graph. Since temperature and precipitation are most often used to describe a certain climate, this graph can represent a climate in one distinct image that is instantly recognizable if you know how to read it. In the Climographs here, the Red represents Temperature and the Green represents Precipitation.

If you look at the graph above of Nashville, TN, you can see that it has rain at about the same amount all year long. Contrast this with the Climograph of Phoenix. (NOTE: Click on any of the Climographs to see an enlarged image.)

You can see that Phoenix doesn't get much rain ever, but does get less in April, May and June. There are definitely differences between Nashville and Phoenix as far as Precipitation goes.

But what about the Temperatures of the two different cities? Most kids can see that the Bell Curve is higher in Phoenix than in Nashville. They are similar in that both summers are hotter than the winters. But can you also see that both are quite steep curves? Compare the slope of both curves to that of San Francisco.

See how flat the curve is for San Francisco? The different between the two is an indication of a marine versus a continental climate. Marine = close to an ocean, Continental = in the middle of a continent. Kids love to know they can see these types of differences and relate them to the actual climates of different areas of the world.

Click here for a good source for Climographs for many different cities of the United States.
Click here for some World Climagraphs. Compare ones from the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. What causes such a big difference?
Click here for a good activity that compares Houston and Moscow.
Click here for one that compares West Palm Beach to Katmandu.
Be sure to check out my Teaching Earth Science website for games that play with the concept of Climographs!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Teaching Layers of the Atmosphere

Here's a new Cut & Paste Activity for teaching the Layers of the Atmosphere.

It can be done in conjunction with the Layers Foldable or instead of the Foldable. It could be a good review right before a test, days after having taught the Layers with the Foldable and a couple of the games I mention on my website. (Here's one of those games.)

It's always fun to show a video from YouTube while they are working. This one has great information. The narrator is from Scotland, but most kids should be able to understand him!

Click here for the Cut & Paste Layers of the Atmosphere Activity.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Plotting Earthquakes and Volcanoes

With the Redoubt Volcano kicking up its heels lately, this might be a good time to consider a classic activity that could be ongoing in your Earth Science classroom.

Basically, about once a week to begin with, and once a month later on for the rest of the school year, you provide your students with several volcanoes and earthquakes to plot on a world map.

I always had a World Map on a bulletin board and blue and red pushpins. Have a student volunteer do the pins. Great fun!

The beauty of this year-long project is that the plate boundaries of our planet become quite obvious after enough points are plotted. You have provided your students a truly "primary source" experience with one of the unifying features of the Plate Tectonics Theory.

Click here for an older version of this activity. You may want to update this with your own current earthquakes and volcanoes.

NOTE: It's always tougher to show the Mid-Atlantic Ridge plot points. You may have to search for those on one of these websites. They rarely make the news for obvious reasons!

Check these sites for good plot points:
Latest Earthquakes

Smithsonian Global Volcanism

PHOTO NOTES: Photos taken on January 30, 2009. "Fumarolic activity is associated with the most recent unrest at Redoubt Volcano. The vigorous steam/gas plume is coming from a large fumarole that developed between January 28 and January 30, 2009. Exposed rock, holes in the ice, and ice collapse features are all signs of thermal activity at the summit area." <>