Earth Science Activities For High School

Earth science activities provide the opportunity to explore the world.

Earth science is a term that includes all the sciences related to Earth. The related fields of study include geology, oceanography and meteorology, for example. Earth science has many practical applications and offers career options students may be interested in, such as mining, meteorology or paleontology. Earth science activities provide students the opportunity to explore their relationship with their environment and planet.

Earthquake Experience

Have each student research a famous earthquake. There are many to choose from: the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the 1964 Alaska “Good Friday” earthquake, the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the 1994 Northridge earthquake or the 2004 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami.

Upon the conclusion of their research, have the students write a short story, a small journal or poem about a fictional or historical person who was present at the earthquake they researched. Have them include this person’s experience before, during and after the earthquake.

Sugar Cube Rock Cycle

Explain to the students how the rock cycle works. Use a large diagram so they can visualize the process. Provide each student with a sugar cube, goggles (to be worn while using the candle), tin foil, hand lens, test tube clamps and a candle. Have students use the hand lens to study the sugar cube and describe how it is like sedimentary rock. Have them perform these steps and ask after each what part of the rock cycle they have witnessed.

1. Crush the sugar cube into a powder.

2. Make a “boat” with the tin foil; pour the crushed sugar cube into it. Wearing the goggles, have students light their candles and secure test tube clamps onto their boats. Hold their boats over their candles and observe the sugar cube.

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3. Extinguish the candles and allow the sugar to cool. Ask them what happens as the sugar cools.

4. Break the hardened sugar with their fingers.

If desired, have the students write down or illustrate the rock cycle now that they have seen a simulation of it in action.

Cloud in a Bottle

This activity will help students study meteorology. Using basic materials, students will make an actual cloud. You will need a wide-mouth pickle jar (32 to 40 ounces), a heavy-duty clear plastic bag, a match, 20 milliliters of water and rubber bands or masking tape.

Place the water into the jar. Light the match; place it in the jar. Quickly put the plastic bag over the mouth of the jar, tightly securing it with a rubber band or masking tape around the top of the jar. Push the bag into the jar as fast as possible, and then pull it out. Watch the cloud form. Explain how humidity, temperature and air pressure interact, resulting in clouds. The water created the humidity and the smoke created the nuclei on which the water vapor could condense. When the bag was pushed into the jar, the pressure and temperature inside the jar increased. When the bag was pulled out the pressure and temperature decreased, resulting in the water vapor condensing and forming a cloud.