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EARTH ENERGY / PROCESSES

Deformation, folding and faulting
Geophysics
Igneous processes
Metamorphic processes
Plate tectonics
Sedimentary processes
Sedimentary structures

DEFORMATION - FOLDING, FAULTING

Title & Description Activity More Ideas and Video
Banana benders
Using a banana to simulate geological structures
Banana benders Video
Collapsing volcanoes - cauldron subsidence (ELI+)
Forming circular ‘cauldron subsidence’ in jelly ‘volcanoes’
Collapsing volcanoes  
Deformed Trilobites
Using fossils to estimate the distortion of rocks
Deformed trilobites 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  
Himalayas in 30 seconds!
Making a miniature fold mountain range in an empty box
Himalayas in 30 seconds! Extension
Teaching video
Video
Isostasy 1 (ELI+)
Modelling the state of ‘balance’ of the Earth’s outer layers
Isostasy 1 Kitchen isostasy 1
Isostasy 2 (ELI+)
‘Bouncing back’ after the ice
Isostasy 2 Kitchen isostasy 2
Isostasy - “Hooray and up she rises!”
How a rising mountain chain can reveal its hidden secrets
Rising mountains  
Margarine mountain-building
Making mountains every time you make a sandwich
Margarine mountains  
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  
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  
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  

IGNEOUS PROCESSES

Title & Description Activity More Ideas and Video
Crystallisation in a pudding dish
Simulating the formation and growth of crystal lattices
Crystallisation in a pudding dish  
Igneous rocks: 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
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  
See how they run
Investigate why some lavas flow further and more quickly than others
See how they run Teaching video
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  
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

METAMORPHIC PROCESSES

Title & Description Activity More Ideas and Video
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+)
Metamorphic aureole in a tin (ELI+)
Investigate what controls the changes in temperature around an igneous intrusion
Metamorphic aureole  
Metamorphic processes: controlled by depth, temperature and pressure (ELI+)
What factors control metamorphism?
Factors controlling metamorphic processes  

PLATE TECTONICS

Title & Description Activity More Ideas and Video
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
Did the continents move for you? (ELI+)
Plotting the movement of continents using apparent polar wandering curves
Polar wandering curves Video
Earth time jigsaw puzzle
Plot the moving continents, from the past to the future
Earth time jigsaw puzzle  
Geobattleships
Do earthquakes and volcanoes coincide?
Geobattleships Teaching video
Heat transfer - The heat is on
Modelling the movement of heat from the Earth’s core outwards
Heat transfer  
Hotspots (ELI+)
Modelling the movement of a plate across the globe
Hotspots  
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  
Marie Tharp: ‘The valley will be coming up soon’. Bruce Heezen: ‘What valley?’
‘A woman scientist in a man’s world’ - what was it like?
Marie Tharp: ‘A woman scientist in a man’s world’  
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  
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
Ocean ridge: Which is the fastest spreading oceanic ridge?
A map-based activity to find the most active oceanic spreading ridge
Fastest spreading ocean  
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: MarsTM margins - diverged, converged and transformed
Modelling plate margins with a MarsTM Bar - apart, together and side by side
Plate margins and MarsTM bars Teaching video
Plate margins: Faults in a MarsTM Bar
Pulling apart a MarsTM Bar to model a divergent plate margin
Faults in a MarsTM Bar Teaching video
Plate margins - 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
Plate tectonics: 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
Plate tectonics: What drives the plates? The evidence
Examine the evidence for the different plate tectonic driving mechanisms
What drives the plates? The evidence Teaching video
Plate tectonics: What drives the plates? In slab pull, what is it that pulls?
Understanding how slab pull works through examining the data
What drives the plates? What is it that pulls? Teaching video
Plate tectonics: What drives the plates? Modelling slab pull
Modelling and discussing the slab pull plate-driving mechanism in the classroom
What drives the plates? Modelling slab pull Video
Wandering continents
What evidence enables us to reconstruct the ancient supercontinent of Pangaea?
Wandering continents  
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 do the top and bottom of a tectonic plate look like?
Questions to test understanding of plate tectonic processes
Top and bottom of a tectonic plate  
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)
 

SEDIMENTARY PROCESSES

Title & Description Activity More Ideas and Video
Breaking up - classroom freeze-thaw weathering
howing how freezing and thawing can break porous rocks in the classroom
Freeze-thaw weathering Teaching video
Bucket for a pothole: visualising past processes by calculation (ELI+)
Modelling river pothole-formation by calculation – thinking through the assumptions
Bucket for a pothole  
Cracking apart (ELI+)
Simulating the weathering or rocks in a desert environment
Cracking apart Teaching video
Changing coastlines
Investigating how wave erosion, transportation and deposition can change the shapes of coastlines
Changing coastlines  
Danger - quicksands!
Why do some rocks give way when it rains hard?
Quicksands  
Failing slopes
Modelling how rock cliffs and slopes can collapse
Failing slopes  
Dust bowl
Investigating wind erosion
Dust bowl Extension
Evidence from the deep freeze
Photographs of glacial and periglacial landscapes
Glacial and periglacial landscapes  
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)
How can storms affect erosion rates?
Predict what will happen to a landscape if it is affected by a storm
How can storms affect erosion rates?  
How many sand grains are there in a bucket – or on a beach?
Planning activities to estimate the number of sand grains in a bucket – or on a beach
How many sand grains are there in a bucket – or on a beach?  
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  
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  
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
Rock, rattle and roll
Investigating the resistance of rocks to erosion by shaking in a plastic container
Rock, rattle and roll Teaching video
Metamorphism - that’s Greek for ‘change of shape’ isn’t it?
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
Sandcastles and slopes
What makes sandcastles and slopes collapse?
Sandcastles and slopes  
Shell shake - survival of the toughest
Why is the fossil record incomplete?
Shell shake  
Teacher - ‘What’s the difference between weathering and erosion?’
Addressing common misconceptions about weathering and erosion
Weathering and erosion  
Waves - Making waves: a storm in a teacup?
Three ways to make waves in a container of water: wind, earthquake and impact
Making waves: a storm in a teacup?  
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
‘World in a grain of sand’
What can a grain of sand tell us about its past?
‘A world in a grain of sand’  

SEDIMENTARY STRUCTURES

Title & Description Activity More Ideas and 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?  
Bedding planes: What would it feel like to wriggle your toes on an ancient bedding plane as the sediment was being deposited?
Clues from the present day about the origin of sedimentary rocks
Wriggling toes on ancient bedding planes  
Cracking the clues
Making your own cracking clues to the Earth’s past
Cracking the clues  
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?  
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 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 unconformity – by hand
Using your hands to demonstrate how unconformities form
Modelling unconformity - by hand  
Picturing puzzle structures
Visualise and draw sedimentary structures from a verbal description
Picturing puzzle structures  
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 - which sedimentary structures can you make?
Making sedimentary structures in the classroom using simple apparatus and materials
Make your own sedimentary structures  
Sedimentary structures - sole marks
Evidence from the base of a sedimentary bed
Sole marks  
Sedimentary structures - Picturing trace fossils and other strange shapes
Visualise and draw trace fossils and sedimentary structures from a verbal description
Picturing trace fossils  
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