There are so many topics to cover for high school earth science labs. We’ve identified 6 topics from plate tectonics to biomes that you can teach your students. Additionally, we’ve found physical and virtual lab activities to teach each topic in class.
Not only can your students learn the methods, but they can also have fun along the way. Many of these concepts can be challenging to find a clear earth science lab experience for, so we hope the virtual labs will help students understand them.
According to the National Geographic Society, "Plate tectonics is a scientific theory that explains how major landforms are created as a result of Earth's subterranean movements. The theory, which solidified in the 1960s, transformed the earth sciences by explaining many phenomena, including mountain building events, volcanoes, and earthquakes.”
We found a fun lab activity you can use where students can use graham crackers to represent different aspects of plate tectonics.
In Labster’s simulation, Drivers of Plate Tectonics: Replicate Earth’s convection currents, students will investigate the process of convection, learn what drives the movement of tectonic plates, and perform an experiment with an extremely hot lava sample!
The coastlines of South America and Africa match like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Centuries back, cartographers already noticed this geometrical fit of continents across the South Atlantic Ocean. In 1915, Alfred Wegener proposed the first scientific hypothesis based on this observation. According to his continental drift theory, continents had changed their relative locations throughout the geological past.
We found an activity where students can cut out the different continents and paste them together to see the continental drift theory in action.
In Labster’s simulation, Continental Drift Theory: Past and future locations of the world's continents, students will investigate the different forms of evidence that support the continental drift theory and use their knowledge to demonstrate where the continents were located in the past and where they will move in the future.
The water cycle, called a hydrological cycle (hydro, meaning water), is one of the biogeochemical cycles. Life on the earth is highly dependent on regulating the water cycle. Water continuously moves from the land (soil, water bodies, glaciers, mountains, plants) to the atmosphere and back to the ground.
We found a “water cycle baggie” idea where students can put water in a plastic bag, draw the water cycle on the baggie, and witness evaporation and condensation.
In Labster’s simulation, Principles of the Water Cycle, students will learn how water moves around the Earth in a continuous cycle.
The nitrogen cycle is a biogeochemical cycle which is fundamental to many life processes. The atmosphere consists of 78% nitrogen, in the form of nitrogen gas (N2).
There’s an activity where students can “write humorous (limerick, couplet) poems or more serious poems (haiku) or structured poems (cinquain, diamante) to tell several facts about a component of the nitrogen cycle.”
In Labster’s simulation, The Nitrogen Cycle: Balance food demands and environmental concerns, students will learn all about the nitrogen cycle and help restaurant owner Alex understand why food suppliers cannot simply increase food production without considering the broader impacts it has on the nitrogen cycle
According to the Marine Science Institute, “Marine biology is the study of marine organisms, their behaviors and interactions with the environment. Marine biologists study biological oceanography and the associated fields of chemical, physical, and geological oceanography to understand marine organisms.”
We found an “Introduction to Ocean Zones” activity where students can draw a diagram of ocean zones and try to guess which organisms live in which section based on their limitations for survival.
In Labster’s simulation, Thermal Effects on Marine Oxygen Levels, students will be environmental investigators to solve a fish kill mystery. They’ll analyze the oxygen levels in the water using a spectrophotometer and discover the impact of the oxygen levels on the fish.
Biomes are defined as a closely knit community structure where plants, animals, microbes, fungi, etc co-exist in their natural dynamics. Very often these living organisms of the area share a set of common characteristic features that are peculiar and meticulously defined to suit their existence in that area.
We found a list of 25 (!) activities you can use to teach about biomes in the classroom. The options range from choice boards to biomes in boxes.
In Labster’s simulation, Biomes: Identify and create the main biomes on Earth, students will learn about the concepts of Biodiversity, Biomes and Ecosystems, and you will also be able to locate the main biomes on Earth.
Looking for more ideas? Check out our catalog of more than 300 simulations.
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