The sustainability of our ocean fisheries is a topic of concern for many, including environmentalists and fishermen who make their living on the bounty of the sea. It is important to use sustainable fishing practices so that our fisheries are not over-fished leading to a decline in productivity. Some states require fish markets to post information about their fish so that consumers can make informed decisions about which fish to buy. They post the type of fish (e.g., Coho Salmon), the source of…
Many continents contain large mountain ranges that divide the continent into different regions. In the U.S. the Rocky Mountains mark the continental divide. The presence of a large mountain range can have a big effect on seasonal weather patterns. Also, the weather and climate on one side of a mountain range may be very different from weather and climate on the other side of the range. In the case of the Rocky Mountains, the western slope and eastern slope each have very different climates…
Is there a public park, playground, or beach near you that suffers from a litter problem? Here is a way that you can do something about it! First, get a measure of the size of the problem by conducting a litter survey. Select a fraction of the area to survey at regular intervals (e.g., every two or three days, or maybe once a week). The area should be large enough so that you can get a representative sample of litter, but not so large that you can't clean it up. Each time you conduct your…
You can study hazards that affect coastal areas. What geological forces cause a tsunami? A tsunami (Japanese for 'harbor wave') is a wave generated by an undersea earthquake, landslip, or volcanic eruption. You can demonstrate what causes a tsunami by simulating an undersea earthquake with a water table. How does the depth of water effect the height of the wave? Do different slopes of bottom change the speed of the wave? Visit the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program to find out about…
Divide a part of your garden into two equal plots, with each plot receiving equal amounts of sun. Cover one plot with two inches of organic mulch, such as compost or ground bark. Leave the other plot uncovered. Use the same amount of water for each plot for two or three weeks. At the beginning of the experiment, and at one-week intervals, dig down and check the soil in each plot for moisture content. Which plot holds water better? Which plot shows better plant growth? (McCausland, 2006)
Have you ever been to a tide pool during low tide? Some intertidal animals in the low tide zone are left in a tiny pool of water when the tides go out. Other intertidal animals that live in high tide zones may be left to dry out during low tide. How much time does each zone spend out of water during a tidal cycle?
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Very Short (≤ 1 day)
You need to live within driving distance to a beach or ocean front to do this experiment.
Is soil structure an important factor in earthquake dynamics? Investigate soil liquefaction and how different soil types respond to earthquake movements. Are movements more dramatic in sandy/loamy or clay type soils? Which soil structures are most stable? Which are the most volatile? (MCEER, 2005)
If you live in a humid environment, then you know that summer is not only hot, it is downright muggy. You can test the effect of humidity on temperature by measuring the temperature and humidity in your bathroom while running the shower. You can also use historical weather data to compare average seasonal temperatures in humid (e.g., Florida) and dry (e.g., Arizona) regions. How does humidity relate to temperature? Pressure? Why do humid environments tend to be coastal or tropical? How does…
How does temperature change as barometric pressure changes? You can make a device to test this using a barometer and a thermometer on your stovetop. You can collect your own weather data from a barometer and thermometer over a period of a week or month. You can also use data from a weather station to plot the relationship between barometric pressure and temperature. Does the pressure change as humidity changes? Measure the pressure in a humid and non-humid environment (like your bathroom…
Wind can make a cold day colder, or a hot day more pleasant. Use weather data to test the effect of wind on the temperature. How much of a change on the perceived temperature can the wind make? How is wind shear calculated? How can a wind barrier, like a wind breaker, keep you warm even if there is no insulating material? Build an instrument to measure wind speed or direction. (FI, 2006; GLOBE, 2006; NCAR, 2006; NOAA, 2006; Unisys, 2006; Weather Underground, 2006; WMO, 2006)
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