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Earth Energy/Processes Activities
Title & Description English More Ideas and Video
Banana benders
Using a banana to simulate geological structures
Banana benders Video
Beach, river, dune, mountain, plain - what layers might be preserved here?
A discussion on what evidence might be preserved in rocks from different environments
What layers are preserved?  
Blow up your own volcano!
Demonstrate the importance of gases in volcanic eruptions
Blow up your own volcano! Extension
Volcano Simulator
(Alaska Museum of Science & Nature)
Video
Best classroom eruption
Breaking up - classroom freeze-thaw weathering
howing how freezing and thawing can break porous rocks in the classroom
Freeze-thaw weathering Teaching video
Bubble-mania
The bubbling clues to magma viscosity and eruptions
Bubble-mania  
Bucket for a pothole: visualising past processes by calculation (ELI+)
Modelling river pothole-formation by calculation – thinking through the assumptions
Bucket for a pothole  
Changing coastlines
Investigating how wave erosion, transportation and deposition can change the shapes of coastlines
Changing coastlines  
Collapsing volcanoes - cauldron subsidence (ELI+)
Forming circular ‘cauldron subsidence’ in jelly ‘volcanoes’
Collapsing volcanoes  
Continental jigsaw puzzle (ELI+)
Can you reassemble a supercontinent from a ‘jigsaw puzzle’?
Continental jigsaw puzzle Teaching video
Continental split - the opening of the Atlantic Ocean
Modelling how the continents moved, from Pangaea to today
Atlantic opening Video
Continents in collision (ELI+)
Modelling processes at a destructive (convergent) plate margin
Continents in collision Extension
Teaching video
Cracking apart (ELI+)
Simulating the weathering or rocks in a desert environment
Cracking apart Teaching video
Cracking the clues
Making your own cracking clues to the Earth’s past
Cracking the clues  
Crystallisation in a pudding dish
Simulating the formation and growth of crystal lattices
Crystallisation in a pudding dish  
Danger - quicksands!
Why do some rocks give way when it rains hard?
Quicksands  
Did the continents move for you? (ELI+)
Plotting the movement of continents using apparent polar wandering curves
Polar wandering curves  
Dust bowl
Investigating wind erosion
Dust bowl Extension
Earth time jigsaw puzzle
Plot the moving continents, from the past to the future
Earth time jigsaw puzzle  
Evidence from the deep freeze
Photographs of glacial and periglacial landscapes
Glacial and periglacial landscapes  
Exploring current flows through straits
Testing the L. F. Marsili model of Bosphorus currents (1680)
Current flows through straits (Marsili model)  
Failing slopes
Modelling how rock cliffs and slopes can collapse
Failing slopes  
Faults in a MarsTM Bar
Pulling apart a MarsTM Bar to model a divergent plate margin
Faults in a MarsTM Bar Teaching video
Fluids, friction and failure
How can unseen fluids affect the movement along faults and glacier beds?
Fluids, friction, failure  
From folds to crustal shortening: visualising past processes by calculation (ELI+)
Modelling folding by calculation – thinking through the assumptions
Folds to crustal shortening  
From river sediment to stripy rocks
Modelling the build up of different layers of sediment as seen in sedimentary rocks
River sediment to stripy rocks  
Grinding and gouging
How moving ice can grind away rocks
Grinding and gouging Video (Portuguese intro)
Heat transfer - The heat is on
Modelling the movement of heat from the Earth’s core outwards
Heat transfer  
Himalayas in 30 seconds!
Making a miniature fold mountain range in an empty box
Himalayas in 30 seconds! Extension
Teaching video
Video
Hotspots (ELI+)
Modelling the movement of a plate across the globe
Hotspots  
How do sedimentary beds form? – and why can we see them?
Demonstrating how the beds in sedimentary rocks are deposited
How do sedimentary beds form?  
Ice power (ELI+)
Freezing water in a syringe to measure expansion
Ice power  
Ice-thickness from scratch: visualising past processes by calculation (ELI+)
Modelling glacial striation-formation by calculation – thinking through the assumptions
Ice thickness from striations  
Isostasy 1 (ELI+)
Modelling the state of ‘balance’ of the Earth’s outer layers
Isostasy 1  
Isostasy 2 (ELI+)
‘Bouncing back’ after the ice
Isostasy 2  
Isostasy - “Hooray and up she rises!”
How a rising mountain chain can reveal its hidden secrets
Rising mountains  
James Hutton - or ‘Mr. Rock Cycle’? (ELI+)
Thinking towards the rock cycle, the Hutton way
James Hutton Rock cycle song
Karstic scenery - in 60 seconds
Modelling the chemical weathering of limestone
Karstic scenery  
LegoTM method of showing weathering, erosion, transportation and deposition
Using LegoTM bricks to demonstrate sedimentary processes
LegoTM bricks and sedimentary processes  
Magnetic stripes (ELI+)
Modelling the symmetrical magnetic pattern of the rocks of the sea floor
Magnetic stripes Teaching video
“Mantle plume” in a beaker – but not driving plates (ELI+)
Mantle plumes ‘yes’ – but convection currents driving plates, probably ‘No’
Mantle plume  
Margarine mountain-building
Making mountains every time you make a sandwich
Margarine mountains  
Melting and boiling - the influence of pressure (ELI+)
How does a reduction in pressure lower melting and boiling points?
Pressure reduction on melting and boiling points  
Merry waves - all year round (ELI+)
Modelling how the energy of seismic waves is transmitted
Merry waves  
Metamorphic aureole in a tin (ELI+)
Investigate what controls the changes in temperature around an igneous intrusion
Metamorphic aureole  
Metamorphism - that’s Greek for ‘change of shape’ isn’t it?
What changes can we expect when rocks are put under great pressure in the Earth?
Metamorphism Extension
Teaching video
Video (16+)
Mighty river in a small gutter: Investigating small-scale sedimentary processes AND modelling mighty rivers
The ‘Mighty River in a small gutter’ Earthlearningidea activity used at different scales
River processes at different scales Teaching video
Mighty river in a small gutter
Sediments on the move
Mighty river in a small gutter Extension
Model a spreading ocean floor offset by transform faults
A model of the transform fault ‘steps’ in oceanic ridges and their magnetic stripes
Transform faults Video
Teaching Video
Modelling by hand ‘when the youngest rock is not on top’
Illustrating how rock sequences can have older rocks on top of younger one
Youngest rock is not on top  
Modelling Earth stresses with your hands
Hand modelling of compression, tension and shear in the Earth
Modelling Earth stresses with your hands  
Modelling faulting – by hand
Using your hands to demonstrate different fault features
Modelling faulting - by hand  
Modelling folding – by hand
Using your hands to demonstrate different fold features
Modelling folding - by hand  
Modelling right way up or upside down? - modelling anti- and synforms by hand
Use your hands to show how the beds in folds can be the right way up or inverted
Modelling anti- and synforms by hand  
Modelling remote sensing geophysics (ELI+)
Using a mock gravitometer and magnetometer set up in the classroom
Remote sensing geophysics  
Modelling unconformity – by hand
Using your hands to demonstrate how unconformities form
Modelling unconformity - by hand  
Partial melting - simple process, huge global impact (ELI+)
How partial melting, coupled with plate tectonics, has changed the chemistry of our planet
Partial melting Extension
Partial melting model and real rock (ELI+)
Comparing a model with reality to develop understanding of the partial melting process
Partial melting model and real rock  
Plate driving mechanisms: ‘All models are wrong’ - but some are really wrong
Many textbook diagrams of plate-driving forces have arrows in the wrong places
Plate driving mechanisms  
Plate margins and movement by hand
Modelling plate margins and plate movement with your hands
Plate margins and movement by hand Teaching video
Plate riding (ELI+)
Role-play plate-surfing to ask: ‘How is the plate you live on moving now?’
Plate riding Teaching video
Plate tectonics through the window (ELI+)
What might you see through a window or porthole at an active plate margin?
Plate tectonics through the window Teaching videos
Video - subduction
    (Oxford Sparks)
Rock cycle at your fingertips
Modelling the rock cycle with your fingers
Rock cycle at your fingertips Teaching video
Rock cycle song
Rock cycle and plate tectonics: The deep rock cycle explained by plate tectonics: lithification
A model showing how plate tectonics can explain sediments becoming sedimentary rocks
Deep rock cycle explained by plate tectonics: lithification  
Rock cycle and plate tectonics: The deep rock cycle explained by plate tectonics: deformation and metamorphism
A model showing how plate tectonics can explain metamorphism and rock-deformation
Deep rock cycle explained by plate tectonics: deformation and metamorphism  
Rock, rattle and roll
Investigating the resistance of rocks to erosion by shaking in a plastic container
Rock, rattle and roll Teaching video
Video (Portuguese intro)
Rock resistance - When are soft rocks tough, and hard rocks weak?
A discussion about the toughness/resistance of rocks in different places
When are soft rocks tough, and hard rocks weak?  
Rolling, hopping, floating and invisibly moving along
Investigating how sediment is transported by water
Sediment transport in water Teaching video
Salt of the Earth
Who can make the biggest salt crystal?
Salt of the Earth Extension
Sandcastles and slopes
What makes sandcastles and slopes collapse?
Sandcastles and slopes  
Sand ripple marks in a tank
How symmetrical ripple marks form in sand
Sand ripple marks in a tank Extension
Video
Sand ripple marks in a washbowl
How asymmetrical ripple marks form in sand
Sand ripple marks in a washbowl Extension
Video
Sedimentary structures - cross-bedding and ancient currents
Using cross bedding to find the directions of ancient currents
Cross-bedding and ancient currents  
Sedimentary structures - cross-bedding and ‘way-up’
Using cross bedding to determine the way-up of a bed of sedimentary rock
Cross-bedding and ‘way-up’  
Sedimentary structures - graded bedding
Make your own graded bed - one depositional event, but with coarse to fine sediment
Graded bedding  
Sedimentary structures - imbrication
Which way did the river flow?
Imbrication  
Sedimentary structures - load casts
Interpreting odd bumps on the bases of beds
Load casts  
Sedimentary structures – make your own cross-bedding
Classroom activities to make and explain how cross-bedding forms
Make your own cross-bedding  
Sedimentary structures - sole marks
Evidence from the base of a sedimentary bed
Sole marks  
See how they run
Investigate why some lavas flow further and more quickly than others
See how they run Teaching video
Shell shake - survival of the toughest
Why is the fossil record incomplete?
Shell shake  
Squeezed out of shape
Detecting the distortion after rocks have been affected by Earth movements
Squeezed out of shape Teaching video
Swiss roll surgery
Investigating geological structures and their outcrops using sponge rolls
Swiss roll surgery  
Teacher - ‘What’s the difference between weathering and erosion?’
Addressing common misconceptions about weathering and erosion
Weathering and erosion  
Unfair ‘build your own crystal’ race (ELI+)
A crystal building ‘race’ showing the greater the time available, the larger the crystals
Unfair ‘build your own crystal’ race  
UPDATE: Recent research in plate tectonics
UPDATE: Follow the Joides Resolution research ship at sea
UPDATE: Recent research in plate Tectonics (2020)
UPDATE: Joides Resolution research ship (2020)
 
Valley in 30 seconds - pulling rocks apart
Investigating faulting in an empty box
Valley in 30 seconds Extension
Teaching video
Video
View from above: living tectonism
What was it like to be there – on top of a mountain-building collision?
View from above  
Visualising plunging folds - with your hands and a piece of paper
Using your hands and folded/torn paper to show the patterns made by plunging folds
Plunging folds with your hands and paper  
Volcano and dykes/jelly and cream - radial dykes (ELI+)
Intruding cream radial ‘dykes’ into jelly ‘volcanoes’ until they erupt
Volcanoes and radial dykes  
Volcano in the lab (ELI+)
Modelling igneous processes in wax and sand
Volcano in the lab Teaching video
Extension
Weathering limestone - with my own breath! (ELI+)
A classroom demonstration of how limestone is weathered
Weathering limestone Teaching video
Weathering - rocks breaking up and breaking down
Matching pictures and descriptions of weathered rocks with the processes of weathering that formed them
Weathering - rocks breaking up and breaking down Teaching videos
Wegener’s ‘Continental drift’ meets Wilson’s ‘Plate tectonics’ (ELI+)
How Wegener’s continental drift evidence matches up with evidence for plate tectonics
Wegener’s ‘Continental drift’ meets Wilson’s ‘Plate tectonics’ Video
What drives the plates?
Using a pupil model to demonstrate that slab pull is the main plate-driving force
What drives the plates? Teaching video
What was it like to be there? – clues in sediment which bring an environment to life
Bringing a depositional environment to life using evidence from sedimentary structures
Clues to ancient environments  
Which is the fastest spreading oceanic ridge?
A map-based activity to find the most active oceanic spreading ridge
Fastest spreading ocean  
Why do igneous rocks have different crystal sizes? (ELI+)
Simulating crystallisation from a melt at different rates of cooling
Crystals in igneous rocks Teaching video