The same principles of geology that we use to investigate the Earth can also be applied to other planets. Visit the Astrogeology Research Program at the USGS to find out how information about the geology of other planets can be gathered (USGS, 2006). Can you make a map or model of another planet? What minerals are found on other planets? Which planets have similar composition to the earth? What kind of geological forces occur on other planets? Do other planets have earthquakes, landslides…
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…
Visit the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program to find out about global patterns of earthquake incidents (USGS, 2006). Can mapping earthquakes help identify fault lines? They also have a list of science fair project ideas. Another great resource for earthquake-oriented science fair projects is by Jeffery Barker (Barker, 1994). Build a model to study the forces of an earthquake using sandpaper-covered blocks. What are the forces involved? How are stress and friction in balance along a fault line?…
What is geomagnetism, and how does it affect the earth? Visit the USGS Geomagnetism program for more information about this invisible force (USGS, 2006). How is the earth's magnetic field patterned? Are the magnetic poles located at the exact North and South Pole? How can the fields be mapped on the Earth's surface? What is declination? Use the mapping tools to study changes in declination patterns over time. (USGS, 2006)
Minerals are sometimes precious, like diamonds. But most minerals are very common, like sodium, which is found in salt. How are minerals found and identified? How are our mineral resources distributed? Visit the USGS Mineral Resource Program to find mineral resources in your state. How are satellite images used to identify potential mineral sources? You can also find out how minerals are identified using spectroscopy. How are potentially harmful minerals, like mercury, dealt with? Visit the…
How is geology important for our energy resources? Coal, oil, and natural gas are formed by geological processes over millions of years. Certain geological formations can indicate a reservoir of coal, oil, or natural gas. Also, geothermal processes can be used as an energy resource. How are these formations identified? How are the resources extracted? You can use the to access, view, and download information from geospatial databases containing a broad spectrum of data produced by the…
The papier-mâché volcano is a real classic, but there are many other ways to make an even more exciting and interesting science project focused on volcanoes!
To get started on your own volcano-based science project, you will want to first have an understanding of how volcanoes form. This is related to tectonic plates. The entire outer shell of the Earth, known as the lithosphere, is made up of tectonic plates that are constantly moving. There are seven or eight large tectonic…
Animals have different levels of activity depending upon their habitat, metabolism and behavior. Diurnal animals are more active during the day. Nocturnal animals are more active at night. Being diurnal or nocturnal may have different advantages for different animals. For example, desert animals tend to be nocturnal so they can stay cool and escape the desert heat present during the day. What types of diurnal and nocturnal animals are common in your area? You can set out a small trap to…
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If you choose to try trapping small animals, adult assistance will be necessary. Avoid touching wild animals. Seek immediate medical attention if bitten by an animal.
Think about mountain ranges, canyons, sand dunes, or any other interesting geological feature you may live near enough to visit. The surface of the Earth is always changing due to a balance of forces both above and below the surface. Below-surface forces cause the Earth's crust to be faulted, folded, tilted, and lifted. Above-surface forces are primarily due to the natural processes of weathering and erosion. Can you show the effects of these forces using scale models, demonstrations,…
Fill a jar a little more than half full with fresh water. Make a solution of salt water, and add a drop or two of food coloring to it. Pour the salt water solution into a plastic cup with a small hole in the bottom, and then place the cup in the jar with fresh water. (The only connection between the fresh and salt water should be via the hole in the bottom of the cup.) With the right combination of hole size and salt concentration, you will see an oscillating current develop in the jar. …
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