ADI Online Earth & Space Science Investigations

ESS-01: Orbits

Guiding Question: How does changing the mass of a satellite, the mass of the object that it revolves around, and distance between the two objects affect the nature of the satellite’s orbit?

Goal: The students' goal in this investigation is to figure out how three different factors affect the orbit of a satellite.

Lab Description: Students will use a simulation to change the mass of the object and its satellite as well as their starting differences to see how that affects the shape, distance, and period of a satellite's orbit.

ESS-02: Plate Interactions

Guiding Question: How is the nature of the geologic activity that is observed near a plate boundary related to the type of plate interaction that occurs at that boundary?

Goal: The students' goal in this investigation is to use data to understand how plate movement changes the Earth’s surface.

Lab Description: Students will use a map that shows plate boundaries and types of geologic events such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis to try to find a correlation between the type of plate boundary and the geologic events that occur near it.

ESS-03: Geological Features

Guiding Question: How can the age, distance, and location of a volcano explain the growth of the Hawaiian archipelago over the past 100 million years?

Goal: The students' goal in this investigation is to use data about the different islands to explain how the Hawaiian archipelago continues to grow.

Lab Description: Students will use an interactive map as well as data about the ages of the Hawaiian islands and geologic features around the islands to try to explain how the islands form and where the next one might show up.

ESS-04: Regional Climate

Guiding Question: Why do two cities located at the same latitude and near a body of water have such different climates?

Goal: The students' goal in this investigation is to develop a conceptual model that you can use to explain the temperature and precipitation patterns in San Francisco and Norfolk.

Lab Description: Students will use a variety of weather maps and other real world data points about weather and the ocean to try and figure out how two cities at the same latitude, San Francisco and Norfolk, can have such different climates.

ESS-05: Climate Change

Guiding Question: How do cloud cover and greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere affect the surface temperature of Earth?

Goal: The students' goal in this investigation is to determine how the temperature of Earth responds to changes in the amount of cloud cover and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Lab Description: The simulation allows students to change the amount of clouds and the concentration of greenhouse gases to see how that affects the temperature of a section of Earth so that they can look for correlations.

ESS-06: Lowering Carbon Emissions

Guiding Question: What type of greenhouse gas emission reduction policy will different regions of the world need to adopt to prevent the average global surface temperature on Earth from increasing by 2°C between now and the year 2100?

Goal: The students' goal in this investigation is to identify a greenhouse gas emission reduction plan for six different regions of the world that will, when enacted together, prevent the average global surface temperature of Earth from increasing by more than 2°C by the year 2100.

Lab Description: Students will use a simulation to try and devise a policy for six different regions of the world including the dates that carbon emissions will stop increasing and start decreasing and the amount of change in rates of deforestation and afforestation. Their policy must be effective, but also fair to the different needs of the countries and regions.

ESS-07: Distribution of Natural Resources

Guiding Question: Which proposal for a new copper mine maximizes the potential benefits while minimizing the potential costs?

Goal: The students' goal in this investigation is to analyze and compare the costs and benefits of each copper mine proposal to determine which one would be the best overall.

Lab Description: In this investigation, students will examine several different proposals for developing and managing a copper mining operation to determine which one maximizes the benefits of mining copper while minimizing the potential costs.

ESS-09: Fossil Record

Guiding Question: Which time intervals in the past 650 million years of Earth’s history are associated with the most extinctions and which are associated with the most diversification of life?

Goal: The students' goal in this investigation is to figure out how many diversification and extinction events have occurred during the past 650 million years and when these events happened in the geologic time scale using a fossil record database.

Lab Description: In this investigation, students will use a spreadsheet called Fossil Record 2 Database Summary Counts and a file called Geologic Time Scale Information Sheet to figure out how biodiversity has changed over the different eons.

ESS-10: Moon Phases

Guiding Question: Why does the appearance of the moon change over time in a predictable pattern?

Goal: The students' goal in this investigation is to explain why the appearance of the moon changes.

Lab Description: Students will use a simulation to explore the location of the Sun, Earth, and Moon throughout the moon phases, and then use what they learn to create a model that can accurately predict the moon phase and moon rise/set time on a particular day.

ESS-11: Seasons

Guiding Question: What causes the differences in average temperature and the changes in day length that we associate with the change in seasons on Earth?

Goal: The students' goal in this investigation is to figure out what causes the change in temperature and daylight hours a region on Earth receives.

Lab Description: Students will use a simulator that shows the location of the Sun and Earth in different seasons during different times of year to try and figure out how the seasons are created.

ESS-12: Air Masses and Weather

Guiding Question: How do the motions and interactions of air masses result in changes in weather conditions?

Goal: The students' goal in this investigation is to develop and test a conceptual model that can be used to explain and predict weather conditions based on the movement and interactions of air masses.

Lab Description: Students will look at historical weather maps and weather data to figure out the relationship between different types of systems and the resulting weather. Then they will use their mental model to make predictions about future weather based on a weather map.