Hands-On Science Activities
Need a quick activity for earth science education? Below are nine hands-on activities that can be done in 15-30 minutes that get students thinking about how things really work. Activites were developed by NOAA Teacher At Sea alumni and other NOAA partners and each has been tested with students of various ages.
In this “memory game” students will examine photographs taken on a NOAA
research ship to discover the diversity of organisms found in the Atlantic Ocean.
Participants use discovery and inquiry to investigate a lava lamp and relate it to
Earth’s internal processes that cause geological phenomena such as earthquakes, mountain
building and sea-floor trenches.
Hydrographic surveying is a scientific career that many people may not know
about. Here, a sealed shoebox with a varied topography made out of clay will be measured by
taking depth “soundings” with a skewer.
Model the flow of ocean surface currents by blowing air across a tub of
rheoscopic fluid and water, with clay structures simulating coastlines, islands, and sea floor
Participants will explore the chemical reaction between frozen carbon dioxide
(dry ice) and water and apply their findings to changes that are occurring in ocean ecosystems
as carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is absorbed by the Ocean.
Wearing a “lard glove”, participants plunge their hands into an ice water bath to
investigate the insulative properties of blubber.
Working with a set of illustrated Great Lakes fish cards, students identify
distinguishing characteristics of fish and use a dichotomous key to identify 10 common fish
Students use aluminum foil to make “boats” and then test their design by seeing
how many pennies or paperclips they can hold.
Participants will make cordage (rope) from fiber. This activity can be used to
explore the development of technology as it relates to rope making, cables in suspension
bridges and the role of ropes in the maritime and fisheries industries.
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