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USGS Education

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USGS Science Resources for Primary Grades (K–6)


This Web site contains selected USGS educational resources that may be useful to educators in primary school grades (Kindergarten to Grade 6). Many of these resources can be used directly in the classroom (see Resource Symbols) or will be useful in classroom lessons or demonstration activities preparation, or as resources for teacher education and curriculum development.
Resource Symbols:

lesson plans - Contains complete teaching module
classroom activities - Contains classroom activities

WWW resources - Digital data or images
cost items - Optionally purchase items

Biology


USGS Kids
Activities, games, coloring pages, projects, and stories that teach younger children about animals, climate change, bee population declines, wild birds, and more. classroom activities
Animal Congregations, or What do you Call a Group of....?
Collective nouns or group names for all sorts of critters!
South Florida Kids Page
Learn about the myriad ecosystems in South Florida and the creatures that inhabit them. The site includes coloring pages, games, and summaries of different animal species. classroom activities
Southeast Ecological Science Center Kid's Corner
Short movie clips of amphibians, games & puzzles, wildlife pictures, and coloring sheets related to animals found in the southeast U.S. with an emphasis on Florida. classroom activities
Become a Phenology Observer
The National Phenology Network (sponsored by the USGS) is looking for volunteers to help monitor plant and animal species found across the United States. Learn how to monitor plant and animal phenology and sign up to contribute new observations to the national phenology database. Make this a classroom project! classroom activities

Amphibians
Guide for Amphibian Identification in North America
An online guide for the identification of amphibians in North America north of Mexico. Includes listings by family and species, with photos.
California Reptile and Amphibian Coloring Sheets
Individual coloring pages for the threatened Western Pond Turtle, the endangered mountain Yellow-Legged Frog, and the invasive Red-Eared Slider and American Bullfrog.
Frog Call Quiz
Learn the breeding calls of frogs and toads in the eastern United States and Canada.

Birds
Bird Checklists of the United States
Lists of known bird species for areas in all states of the U.S. Instructions are included on how to create your own checklist.
Whooping Cranes
The USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center has been breeding whooping cranes for release to the wild since 1967. This site has extensive information and Frequently Asked Questions about whooping cranes plus videos and a list of recent articles. Be sure to click on the site map to see fascinating photos and information about raising individual chicks. An additional 16-minute video discusses health, exercise, diet, and training of these birds that were once on the brink of extinction.
Dendroica: An Aid to Identifying North American Birds
Multiple photos and sounds for most bird species in North America.

Ecosystems
Lessons on the Lake: An Educator's Guide to the Pontchartrain Basin lesson plans classroom activities
Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain Basin is home to 1.5 million people and an estuary ecosystem with enormous biodiversity. Activities in the educator’s guide help students in grades 5-12 gain an understanding and appreciation of the Basin and teaches them the skills to identify environmental concerns, make changes, and solve problems.
Wise Wetland Ways
Teachers use wetland "artifacts" to discuss how people benefit from wetlands (on back side of poster). classroom activities
South Florida Ecosystem
A very brief summary of the history of the south Florida ecosystem (Everglades, Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay) and current preservation efforts, written for children.
U.S. Coral Reefs -- Imperiled National Treasures
Coral reefs are home to 25% of all marine species. Learn where and why coral reefs form, where they're located in the United States, and the threats they face through this brief, well-illustrated site.

Insects
Caterpillars of Eastern Forests
Brief sections on caterpillar life cycle, morphology, collecting, rearing, and preserving apply to any location. Caterpillars found in eastern forests are listed by family. A photograph and description is provided for each.
Caterpillars of Pacific Northwest Forests and Woodlands
Describes caterpillar morphology, ecology, and handling. A key to families and species groups includes photographs.
Macromoths of Northwest Forests and Woodlands
The macromoths in the woodlands and forests of the Pacific Northwest are represented by 1,200 species. This report has diagnostic narrative and photographs for 251 species plus discussion on 300 additional species. The actual geographic range for these species extends east to the Rockies and south to California.
Dragonflies and Damselflies (Odonata) of the United States
Distribution maps, photographs, and checklists for dragonflies and damselflies in all states of the U.S. Includes an extensive list of links to other resources.
Mayflies of the United States
Information on the known distribution of mayflies in the United States. Includes checklists for every county.
Stoneflies of the United States
Information on the known distribution of stoneflies in the United States. Includes checklists for every county.
Tiger Beetles of the United States
Information on the known distribution of tiger beetles in the U.S. Includes checklists, photographs, and distribution maps.

Mammals
Bats
Bats are a critical species for pollinating plants, distributing fruit seeds, and consuming insects. Learn how the USGS monitors bat populations and listen to bat vocalizations.
Polar Bears
Polar bears are one of 4 marine mammal species managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Track polar bears by satellite and learn about their habitat.
Sea Otters
Sea otters are one of 4 marine mammal species managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Learn about sea otter basics and follow links to USGS podcasts, a film, a fact sheet, and other information about sea otters.
Manatees
Manatees are one of 4 marine mammal species managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Read an information sheet about manatees, access photographs, and learn about USGS research on manatees.
 

Geography


Helping Your Child Learn Geography
A 32-page booklet, published in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and the National Geographic Society, that is designed to help adults stir children's curiosity about geography. Includes many suggestions for simple activities. K-4.   Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources
Map Adventures
This on-line teacher packet for grades K-3 teaches basic concepts for visualizing objects from different perspectives and how to understand and use maps. The kit includes seven lesson plans, activity sheets, and a printable poster.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities
What Do Maps Show?
This on-line teacher packet for upper elementary and junior high school students has four lessons on reading and using maps. The packet includes a teacher's guide, four printable activity sheets, and three maps in PDF format that can be downloaded and printed on 8.5" x 11" paper.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities

The National Atlas of the United States
National Atlas of the United States®
This invaluable educational tool is a free, interactive version of the traditional paper United States atlas. Most information is designed to depict geographic patterns and trends on a national scale. Topics include agricultural use, forestation, population density, transportation, and more. Use the Map Maker tool to create custom maps or print one of hundreds of pre-formatted page-size maps that are excellent for classroom use. This is the best source for creating quick maps that cover large areas. Icon for classroom activities Icon for lab resources
Outline Maps of the United States - Printable Maps from The National Atlas
Download or print PDF files for several different outline maps of the United States, individual states, and counties within a state. Files print on 8.5" x 11" paper. Icon for lab resources
Latitude and Longitude - The National Atlas
Article describing latitude and longitude and related terms.

Topographic Maps
Topographic Map Resources for Teachers
An overall summary of useful USGS resources for working with topographic maps: where to get them; how to interpret them; how to use them; explanations of coordinates, datums, and projections; and lessons for the classroom. Also available as a 2-page PDF file. Icon for lab resources
Free Digital USGS Topographic Map Quadrangles
Download free USGS topographic map quadrangles in georeferenced PDF (GeoPDF) format by clicking on "Map Locator" on the USGS Store Web site. These files were created using high-resolution scans and average 10-17 megabytes in size.
27 Ideas for Teaching with Topographic Maps
Contains 27 ideas for teaching with the approximately 57,000 topographic maps that the USGS offers.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources
Map Mysteries
Sample questions to use with USGS topographic and thematic maps as starting points to uncover mysteries about the cultural and physical geography of the Earth. Icon for teaching module classroom activities
Corn Maze Geography
Visit a corn maze and use these activities to learn about maps and geography. Icon for teaching module classroom activities
Topographic Salad-Tray Model
This basic activity-oriented lesson helps students understand a topographic map by creating a three-dimensional model from contours on a topographic map.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities
Finding Your Way with a Map and Compass
A brief description of how to navigate using a compass and topographic maps.   Icon for classroom activities
Map Symbols
An explanation of topographic maps and map symbols.
Topographic Maps Illustrating Physiographic Features
More than 50 years ago, the USGS selected a set of 100 topographic maps showing good examples of a wide range of physical features in the United States. The goal was to help students learn about the geologic evolution of the Nation's natural landscapes and to show how topographic maps reveal more about the land surface than its shape and elevation. The National Atlas is now launching an improved and revised digital "Set of 100 Maps" using a simple online viewer.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
125 Years of USGS Topographic Maps
December, 2009 marked the 125th anniversary of the USGS Topographic Mapping Program. View historical photographs of USGS topographers and cartographers at work.
US Topo: The Next Generation Topographic Map
Do you teach about maps, or do you use them in the classroom? The USGS has developed a new map series called the US Topo. Modeled on the old topographic series, these maps are derived from digital data that will allow the entire contiguous U.S. to be remapped every three years. US Topo maps are currently only available for certain states in the central and eastern U.S., but maps of new locations area constantly being added. Download free digital US Topo maps through the Map Locator. Download PDF files of traditional topographic maps at the same site.

Map Tools
USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS)
GNIS contains information for almost 2 million physical and cultural geographic features in the United States and its territories. Query the database to find individual features and their corresponding coordinates. Search results include links to on-line air photos and topographic maps containing the feature. GNIS is also a layer of The National Map (above).   Icon for lab resources
Elevations and Distances
Tables of information covering elevations of features and distances between points in the United States. Also locates the geographic center of each state.   Icon for lab resources

Satellite Images
Tracking Change over Time
Enhance students' learning of geography, map reading, earth science, and problem solving through landscape changes recorded by satellites in space. lesson plans classroom activities Icon for lab resources
Earthshots: Satellite Images of Environmental Change
Earthshots is an e-book of before-and-after Landsat images (1972-present), showing recent environmental events and introducing the concept of remote sensing. Each set of images includes a detailed description, photographs and maps, a list of references, and a question/answer. Images are best used on-line. classroom activities Icon for lab resources
TerraLook
Download free, high-resolution satellite images in georeferenced PDF format, which allows for visual interpretation and comparison without the need for complicated software. Icon for lab resources
EarthNow! Near-Real Time Satellite Image Viewer
What does a satellite see as it passes over our planet? Find out with the EarthNow! Landsat Image Viewer, which shows mesmerizing, near-real time satellite imagery from the Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 satellites as they pass over North America. A fun way to learn more about these satellites and their imagery is to watch a high-resolution, 1-hour public lecture, Looking Down On Our Planet: New Satellite Imagery Reveals a Changing Global Surface. Icon for lab resources
Satellite Image of Your State
Download and print a spectacular free image of your state created by combining satellite imagery with the National Elevation Dataset data. Icon for lab resources

Thematic Map Resources
Tapestry of Time and Terrain
Shaded relief and geology are combined on this interactive map of the 48 conterminous states. It is a useful resource for discussing physiographic provinces and for viewing the location of rocks deposited during different geologic time periods. Download a PDF version or purchase a paper wall-size version (one of the most eye-catching maps produced by the USGS) through the USGS Store.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
North America Tapestry of Time and Terrain
This is an expanded version of the above map that includes the United States, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. Download a free PDF or purchase a paper copy.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
Public Land Surveys Map
A highly detailed paper map showing the growth of territory of the United States from 1776 through 1965; National parks and monuments, national forests, Indian Reservations, National Wildlife Refuge, and Public Lands; and Principal Meridians and Baselines, Townships, and Ranges from the U.S. Public Land Surveys (product #101208). Use this map to teach and learn about how the country grew, and the affect of the Public Land Survey System on the present-day arrangement of roads and cities. Web site includes a link to a list of questions that can be used with the map. This paper product is a cost item that can be purchased through the USGS Store.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
Federal Lands and Indian Reservations - Printable Maps from The National Atlas
Maps showing Federal lands and Indian Reservations for the entire U.S. or individual states. Maps print on 8.5"x11" paper.   Icon for lab resources
Indian Land Areas Paper Maps
Four different paper maps showing Indian Land Areas Judicially Established (product # 101505); Indian Land Areas on a planimetric map (product # 101502); Indian Land Areas on a colorful shaded relief map (product # 101516); and Early Indian Tribes, Culture Areas, and Linguistic Stocks (product # 101013). These paper products are cost items that can be purchased through the USGS Store.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
An Emerging Nation Map
A reproduction of a map that shows the United States as it existed about the time the Constitution was written. The original map was produced in 1784 and was the first map of the United States created by an American cartographer. Download a free PDF or purchase a paper copy through the USGS Store.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies

Land Use History
Analyzing Land Use Change in Urban Environments
Four-page USGS Fact Sheet describing and illustrating the need for urban growth studies.
Urban Growth in American Cities
An on-line publication that illustrates the spatial history of urban growth in sixteen areas around the U.S. and the corresponding land use change. Images can be downloaded as GIF files.   Icon for lab resources
Dams and Reservoirs on the Upper Missouri River
The Missouri River drains one-sixth of the United States and flows 2,341 miles from its headwaters to its confluence with the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri. Dams on the Missouri River have drastically changed its flow and the ecosystems along it since the time of Lewis and Clark.

Historic Exploration of the United States
Routes of the Principal Explorers Paper Map
Purchase this paper map showing routes of explorers in the contiguous 48 states, 1501-1844. Product # 101216.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
The Lewis and Clark Expedition and the USGS
Links to USGS publications and other resources related to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Includes resources specifically targeted to teachers and students.   Icon for lab resources
A Satellite View of the Journey of Lewis and Clark
A collection of satellite images that provides a contemporary view of the route that Lewis and Clark took from St. Louis, Missouri, to the Pacific Coast. Includes descriptions of events that took place at each location. Images can be viewed on-line or high-resolution JPEG files can be downloaded and printed.   Icon for lab resources
 

Geology



Geomagnetism
A Brief Introduction to Geomagnetism
The USGS uses ground-based observatories to provide continuous records of the Earth's magnetic field variations. This simplified description uses images and a time-lapse animation to explain phenomena created by the magnetic field that can be easily monitored and studied.
Journey Along a Field Line
A sixteen-page comic book about the Earth's magnetic field. Travel down through the interior of the earth then back up into the ionosphere to learn how the magnetic field works.

Astronomy and Astrogeology
Browse the Solar System!
This Web site starts with a "clickable" image of a popular poster of all the planets and moons in the Solar System, and provides links to images and information about each of them. Printouts of each of the planets could be used for a variety of classroom activities (including mobiles). A wall size poster is available for purchase.   Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
Flagstaff Science Center
Looking for information on the moon, Mars, or impact craters? The Flagstaff Science Center is home to USGS astrogeology research. Take a special look at the Education and Outreach portion of the site for information, lesson plans, and activities that are "out of this world!"

Plate Tectonics
This Dynamic Earth: the Story of Plate Tectonics
"This Dynamic Earth" is one of the most recommended and referenced primers on plate tectonics. Topics include a history of the theory, scientific developments that spurred its development, the mechanics of plate motions, and the relationship of hotspots to plate tectonic theory. A companion best-selling map, "This Dynamic Planet", is also available online or in print.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
This Dynamic Planet: A World Map of Volcanoes, Earthquakes, and Plate Tectonics
Plate tectonics are fully illustrated on this best-selling world map (a companion to "This Dynamic Earth: the Story of Plate Tectonics") showing the locations of plate boundaries, volcanoes, earthquakes, and impact craters. Detailed ocean floor bathymetry and discussions of fundamental components are also featured. A paper version is available for purchase or the map can be downloaded free in PDF format.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
Wegener's Puzzling Evidence Exercise
Students use fossil evidence and other clues to piece together the continents before they drifted apart. classroom activities
Some Unanswered Questions: What Drives The Plates?
This page from the This Dynamic Planet Web site addresses the processes associated with heat flow and convection in the earth.
The Interior of the Earth
An introductory guide to what is known about the interior of our planet.
How to Build a Model Illustrating Sea-Floor Spreading and Subduction
Print, cut-out, and glue together a three-dimensional paper model that illustrates sea-floor spreading and subduction. Simple diagrams and easy-to-understand explanations of the processes are included. classroom activities
Plate Tectonics Tennis Ball Globe Model
Print and color a two-dimensional world globe showing plate boundaries, then cut it out and glue it to a tennis ball to create a three-dimensional model. Includes links to teacher resources and questions to ask students. classroom activities
Major Tectonic Plates of the World
A simple map of the major tectonic plates of the world.

Rocks and Minerals
Schoolyard Geology
Structured activities use man-made features that are found in a typical schoolyard to demonstrate geologic principles. lesson plans classroom activities
The Life Cycle of a Mineral Deposit
A teacher's guide for hands-on mineral education activities. Designed to meet the National Science Standards, as defined by the National Research Council, this General Interest Product (GIP-17) includes 10 activity-based learning exercises that educate students on basic geologic concepts; the processes of finding, identifying, and extracting the resources from a mineral deposit; and the uses of minerals. Geared for fifth through eighth grade science teachers, this publication defines what a mineral deposit is and how it is identified and measured, how the mineral resources are extracted, and how the mining site is reclaimed; how minerals and mineral resources are processed; and how we use mineral resources in our every day lives.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities
Collecting Rocks
Learn about different types of rocks and how to identify and collect them.
Rocks and Minerals
Introductory information about rocks and minerals with a glossary of commonly-used geology terms.
Rocks and Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region
The San Francisco Bay region is host to a greater variety of rocks than most other areas in the U.S. This introductory guide provides illustrated descriptions of 46 varieties of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks that are applicable to any location. Discussions about regional geology, the rock cycle, and mineral resources are included.
Minerals in our Environment
A color poster (approximate dimensions 36 x 60 inches) showing how we use minerals in our everyday life. Download the PDF file and print at full size or page size. A Spanish-language version of this poster is also available.
Mineral Resources: Out of the Ground . . . Into our Daily Lives
A 29 inch x 41 inch poster showing the common usage of mineral resources in our homes, offices, and equipment we use daily. Download a PDF or postscript file to print at full size or page size.
Mineral Use in the Workplace
Find more examples of common uses for minerals.
Building Stones of Our Nation's Capital
Descriptions and examples of the different stones used in the buildings and monuments in the Washington D.C. area, and a discussion of how Washington D.C.'s landmarks have been impacted by acid rain. An abbreviated and updated version of this publication is available as a 2-page fact sheet.
Minerals in Sports
Learn about the amazing materials that go into sports equipment, and the minerals that these materials are derived from!
Gold—Why is gold such an important mineral?
This 23-page booklet gives a brief history of gold mining and the "gold fever" that has endured for centuries of civilizations.
From Projectile Points to Microprocessors -- The Influence of Some Industrial Minerals
A 26-page report examining the occurrence and practical uses of nine important industrial minerals that shaped human culture. Includes numerous photographs and diagrams.
Beryllium - Important for National Defense
As one of the lightest and stiffest metals, Beryllium has become a critical, strategic material in the defense industry. Learn more in this 2-page fact sheet.
Chromium Makes Stainless Steel Stainless
Chromium is one of the most important and indispensable industrial metals because of its hardness and resistance to corrosion. Learn about its many uses in this two page Fact Sheet.
Copper - A Metal for the Ages
Copper was one of the first metals used by humans. How is it used today? Where does it come from? Find the answers along with more fascinating facts in this four-page fact sheet.
Gallium - A Smart Metal
Why is gallium such an important element? How do we use it? Where does it come from? Find all the answers in a 2-page fact sheet.
Lead - Soft and Easy to Cast
Lead is a corrosion-resistant metal that is easily molded and shaped. This two-page fact sheet describes where lead comes from and how we use it.
Molybdenum Fact Sheet
What is molybdenum? How do we use it? Where does it come from? Find answers in this two-page fact sheet.
Nickel - Makes Stainless Steel Strong
All U.S. coins except the penny are made of alloys that contain nickel? Find out how else it's used in this 2-page fact sheet.
Mineral Resource of the Month
How is a specific mineral used in the United States? How much of that mineral is produced? These questions are answered in this series of two-page articles written for over sixty different minerals.
Do We Take Minerals for Granted?
Did you know that the average automobile contains 42 lbs of copper? Use this site to learn about the everyday use of minerals, minerals and the environment, mineral supplies, and much more. An additional report on Geology and Nonfuel Mineral deposits of the United States is an excellent source of information, page size maps, and illustrations of the geologic processes.

Weathering and Erosion
What's the Difference between Weathering and Erosion?
The difference between weathering and erosion is very briefly explained.
Erosion
Students use soil and water to demonstrate the effect of rainfall on soil erosion. Icon for classroom activities
Weathering and Erosion in Desert Environments
Explains how desert climates impact weathering and erosion processes in the Mojave Desert (this activity is on the back side of the poster). Icon for classroom activities

Fossils and Earth History
The Geologic Story of the Ocoee River
Use the rocks along the Ocoee River in eastern Tennessee to reconstruct a 750 million year history of the area to the present day.
The Southern Appalachians: A Changing World
The Southern Appalachians are some of the oldest mountains on Earth. Molded and shaped over eons by volcanism, erosion, glaciation, and other geologic forces, these mountains are known worldwide for their unusual beauty and rich biological diversity. A 25-minute film (DVD) with teacher's guide, a 23-page booklet, and a geologic map describe the geologic events that influenced the landscape, climate, soils, and living things that can be seen there today. All items were designed for classroom use. The film must be purchased but the other materials are available free online or can be purchased in hard copy.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
Glimpses of the Ice Age from I-81
This two-page pamphlet describes Ice Age block fields along I-81 in Virginia. Learn where they come from and decide if block fields might exist in your part of the country.
The Great Ice Age
There is evidence all around about The Great Ice Age and its impact on North America. Learn about the Earth's recent cold past and how to recognize the clues left behind.
Geologic Time
Learn about the age of the Earth and how scientists express these very old ages using relative and radiometric time scales.
The Geologic Time Spiral - A Path to the Past
The centerfold illustration from the popular USGS pamphlet "Geologic Time" is now available as a downloadable poster in both page-size and poster-size resolutions. This diagram is a wonderful representation of the age of the Earth from its creation, through the different geologic eras, and up to the present. Perfect for classroom walls! Icon for lab resources
The Paleontology Portal
This website, produced by several organizations including the USGS, houses extensive information about Earth history, fossils, and the science of paleontology. Links to education modules and activities are included.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources
Paleontology at the U.S. Geological Survey
Learn about paleontology research and resources at the USGS. The site includes excellent fossil group information.   Icon for lab resources
Mud Fossils (includes guides and lesson plan)
This Web site is a teaching kit for lower elementary grades (K-3) that includes lesson plans, activities, and other resources for teaching about fossils.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities
Fossils, Rocks, and Time
A general overview of geologic time and the use of fossils to determine the age of layers in the earth.
Dinosaurs: Fact and Fiction
This pamphlet contains answers to some frequently asked questions about dinosaurs, with current ideas and evidence to correct some long-lived popular misconceptions. Although much has been discovered recently about dinosaurs, there is still a great deal more to learn about our planet and its ancient inhabitants.

Caverns and Caves
Exploring Caves
Exploring Caves is an interdisciplinary set of materials on caves for grades K-3. Using earth science, hydrology, mapping, biology, and anthropology, the unit provides teachers with detailed lesson plans to explore these rich environments with very young students.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities
Paper Model of Karst Topography
Cut out and glue together a three-dimensional model illustrating karst topography. classroom activities
Distribution of Karst in the United States
A preliminary (but still useful) map showing the location of karst in the United States.

Coastal Environments
Chesapeake Bay Bolide
Explore the extraordinary consequences of a large extraterrestrial body colliding with the Earth in this new research on the Chesapeake Bay bolide. Events like these may have contributed to the demise of dinosaurs.
The Fragile Fringe: A Guide for Teaching about Coastal Wetlands (from the USGS National Wetlands Research Center)
Material to use for developing a comprehensive study of coastal wetlands.  Includes background information, suggested activities, glossary, references, and reading list. Activities can be demonstrated by the teacher or performed by students. Emphasis is on Gulf Coast wetlands.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities
Coastal Erosion (Grade School version or Middle School version)
Moist sand and water are used to demonstrate how different waves affect the movement of sand along the coast (see back side of poster). classroom activities
Coasts in Crisis
This website describes types of coasts (rocky shores, sandy beaches, coastal wetlands, and coral reefs). It also provides discussion about processes that affect beaches and coastlines including waves, tides, weather, water-level changes, coastal vegetation, and human impacts of beach sediments and processes.
A Photo Gallery of Florida's Big Bend Tidal Wetlands
A photo collection offering a thematic tour of Florida's Big Bend tidal wetlands. Photos cover aspects of the flora, fauna, and geology of this mosaic of tidal marsh, coastal forest, and winding tidal creeks.   Icon for lab resources
Mapping Coastal Change Hazards
This site provides an illustrated discussion of coastal change hazards and the work that the U.S. Geological Survey is doing to map and understand these hazards.   Icon for lab resources
Virtual Field Trip West-Central Florida Coast
Photographs of the barrier islands off of the west-central Florida coast highlight the tour of this dynamic system.   Icon for lab resources

Global Change
Deserts—Geology and Resources
This general interest publication describes how deserts form, types of deserts, and landscape features typically associated with deserts. Learn about desertification as an indicator of climate change.
Global Change
Includes introduction, activities and teaching guide for topics relating to global change, time, and earth systems. Targeted to grades 4-6.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources

Natural Hazards
Natural Hazards Gateway
Provides many links and resources to USGS information related to earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis, volcanoes, and wildfires.   Icon for lab resources

Earthquakes
Earthquake ABC
An ABC book created by children who witnessed an earthquake. It incorporates science, feelings, and preparedness related to this unpredictable and frightening hazard. Parent and teacher guides are included.
Visual Glossary of Earthquake Terms
Not only are earthquake terms explained, but photographs and other images are provided with each entry.
Earthquakes - For Kids
This Web site is rich with facts, information, coloring pages, and activities related to earthquakes. Includes links to teacher resources and much more...   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources
Earthquake Puzzles and Games
"Fun stuff" from the Earthquake Hazards Team. classroom activities
Bigger Faults Make Bigger Earthquakes
Use string or rope to demonstrate relationships between the length of a fault and the earthquakes that occur along it. classroom activities
The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake: 100 Years Later
A list of links to USGS science and products about the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Includes simulations of ground shaking, earthquake intensity maps, a virtual tour of the San Francisco Bay Area faults, historic photographs, an earthquake survival handbook for the San Francisco Bay region, and much, much more. Icon for lab resources
Putting Down Roots In Earthquake Country: Your Handbook For the San Francisco Bay Region
This general interest publication provides information about San Francisco Bay region earthquakes (cause, history, probabilities, effects) and provides detailed information about how to be prepared when a major earthquake happens. The guide identifies specific steps to improve your safety before, during, and following an earthquake. This "must read" document provides sound advice for anyone living in a potential disaster zone.
Earthquake Hazards Topics for Educators
A list of USGS Earthquake Hazards websites (with brief descriptions of each) that teachers and students will find particularly useful. Includes many simple classroom exercises that demonstrate earthquake principles and geologic principles. classroom activities
Earthquakes
A 20-page online booklet that explains the nature and causes of earthquakes. Describes techniques used to detect, record, measure, and predict seismic disturbances.
Earthquake Summary Posters
Download a summary poster showing the details of a specific earthquake. Icon for lab resources

Tsunamis
Tsunamis and Earthquake Research
An extensive list of links with information about tsunamis, including animations of the 2004 tsunami.
Life of a Tsunami
A very basic explanation of how earthquakes can trigger a tsunami. Includes diagrams.
Surviving a Tsunami—Lessons from Chile, Hawaii, and Japan
This on-line publication describes the causes and impacts of large tsunamis, with examples from around the Pacific Rim.
Could It Happen Here? Tsuanmis That Have Struck U.S. Coastlines
A brief review of significant tsunamis that have struck coastlines of the United States and its territories.
FAQs About Tsunamis
Frequently Asked Questions about tsunamis.

Landslides
The Mountain That Moved
Some of the largest prehistoric landslides in the world are located in Montgomery and Craig Counties, VA; one is nearly three miles long! Learn how these giant landslides were discovered and what they tell us about current landslide potential.
Landslide Types and Processes
This fact sheet provides a basic overview of various kinds of landslides.
The Landslide Handbook—A Guide to Understanding Landslides
What is a landslide? Where do they occur? What causes them? How are they monitored? How can they be prevented? What safety measures can you follow if you live near steep hills? All these questions are answered in this 129-page publication. Written for a general audience, it is heavily illustrated with diagrams and photographs taken at location around the globe.
Landslide Hazards
A two-page fact sheet with basic information about landslide hazards and safety issues related to wet weather conditions in landslide-prone areas.
Riding the Storm—Landslide Danger in the San Francisco Bay Area
A catastrophic 1982 rainstorm triggered 18,000 landslides in the San Francisco Bay Area, claiming 25 lives and causing $66 million in property damage. Learn what USGS scientists have discovered in the last two decades about landslide dynamics and which slopes are most susceptible to sliding in this award-winning online documentary.

Volcanoes
Volcano Resources for Educators
A comprehensive compilation of USGS volcano-related websites that include educational resources.
Volcanoes!
Volcanoes is an interdisciplinary set of materials for grades 4-8. Through the story of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, students will answer fundamental questions about volcanoes. The teaching packet reflects the goals of the National Science Education Standards developed by the National Research Council and incorporates a number of related subjects, including other sciences, social studies, language arts, and mathematics. lesson plans classroom activities
Living with a Volcano in your Backyard
Activities address volcanic processes and hazards, community safety, and the impact of volcanoes on our culture and history. These are structured around (but are not limited to!) the Cascade Range volcanoes. Icon for teaching module classroom activities
Volcano "Fun Stuff"
Volcano word puzzles, mobiles, and Frequently Asked Questions. classroom activities
What are Volcano Hazards?
More than 50 volcanoes in the United States have erupted over the last 200 years. This brief fact sheet explains the hazards that result from these eruptions and how life and property hundreds of miles away from an eruption can be affected.
Map of Current Volcano Activity
The newly revised USGS Volcano Hazards Web site now includes a real-time status map of volcanoes, Quick Links to popular volcano information, and an expanded Resource Page for Educators!
Geologic Hazards at Volcanoes
Download a pdf file of this 18"x27" poster showing a diagram of a cut-away volcano and the various hazards associated with volcanoes either during or between eruptions. The poster can also be ordered for free through the USGS Store ($5.00 handling fee). Product number 208285.
Eruptions in the Cascade Range During the Past 4,000 Years
Download a pdf file of this 20" x 24" poster showing a timeline of eruptions in the Cascade Range. The poster can also be ordered for free through the USGS Store ($5.00 handling fee). Product number 208284.
Cascades Volcano Observatory
The Cascades Volcano Observatory website contains several useful links to USGS science and information about volcanoes throughout the world. Of particular interest are a link to Educational Outreach materials and to an excellent glossary.   Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources
Hawaii Volcano Observatory
Comprehensive information about Hawaii's active volcanoes with many graphics and features including eruption updates, hazards, and associated earthquakes.   Icon for lab resources
Eruptions of Hawaii's Volcanoes--Past, Present, and Future
Updated (2010), online version of a 63-page booklet that was written for the general public. It focuses on selected aspects of the eruptive history, style, and products of Hawaii's Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes. Heavily illustrated with photographs and diagrams.
Volcanic and Seismic Hazards on the Island of Hawaii
A general interest publication that provides an excellent description, with photographs, of the hazards associated with living in an active volcanic region and the topics that potential homeowners and land-use planners must consider before undertaking building or recreational projects on the islands.
Volcanoes (Booklet)
A 45-page online booklet that summarizes basic information about volcanoes – their types, different kinds of eruptions, related features, volcano research, and more.
Photo Glossary of Volcano Terms
Brief descriptions and illustrative photographs of over 60 volcano terms.
Volcano Photo Archive
Photos of volcanoes in the United States with an emphasis on the Cascade Range. Includes a 50-image slide set of Mount St. Helens. Icon for lab resources
Volcano Cams Around the World
"Live" views of volcanoes from Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, and locations around the world.
Alaska Volcanoes Guidebook for Teachers
Over a third of Alaska's 140 volcanoes have been active in the last 300 years. This new online-only publication has chapters covering the tectonic setting, rocks, eruption styles, landforms, community impact, effect on climate, and monitoring of Alaska's volcanoes. Each chapter has 3-4 detailed classroom activities for grades 6-12 and a large amount of supplemental materials. Icon for teaching module
3-D Animation of Mount St. Helens
This animation is based on bare earth digital elevation models derived from lidar. When incorporated into the National Elevation Dataset, these animations become a valuable tool for studying debris flows surrounding volcanoes.
Mount St. Helens Eruption - 30th Anniversary
On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens Volcano exploded violently, causing the worst volcanic disaster in the history of the U.S. Explore materials about the eruption, including a poster, 30 Cool Facts about Mount St. Helens (free through the USGS Store). Watch a fascinating video in which USGS scientists recount their experiences during the eruption, and see how the eruption has triggered a growth in volcano science and volcano monitoring.
America's Volcanic and Geologic Past
Most of what is now the United States has experienced volcanic activity at some point in geologic history. Read about the volcanic past of each state, followed by a brief summary of the overall geologic history of the state. Find more state-based science through Science in Your Backyard.
Caldera Demonstration Model
What is a caldera and how does it form? In this video, a USGS scientist performs a simple demonstration using flour, a balloon, and bicycle pump that can be also used in the classroom. Explore more USGS information about calderas here.
 

Water


Learn About Water
Start your search here for a wealth of general information about water science including materials and activities for K-6.
USGS Water Science for Schools
A fantastic resource for K-8 water science. What is water? What are its properties and how are they measured? How is water used? Where is the water on our planet? Kids learn and have fun at the same time. A glossary, picture gallery, and activity center are among the many additional features.   Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources
The Water Cycle for Kids
A cartoon poster that shows water droplets traveling through the water cycle. Select the "interactive" option and choose the Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced versions to get more information. Download the poster (PDF) for free in multiple languages. There is also a more mature version of the water cycle poster for older students.
A Journey with Water
A very simple coloring book following the adventures of a water drop. Suitable for K-2. classroom activities
Streamer - The National Atlas
Have you ever dropped a stick in a river and wondered where it might go if it floated all the way downstream? Explore America's larger streams by tracing them upstream to their source or downstream to where they empty. Learn about your stream traces and the places they pass through in a detailed report.
Water, Floods, and Flood Plains
Students use simple materials and water in a spray bottle to learn about watersheds and floods (see the back of the poster).
Hazardous Waste Cleanup
Students experience the difficulty of cleaning up contaminated water (see the back of the poster).
The Value of Water
Students use "water dollars" to pay for the water that they use throughout the day, learning the ways we use water and its importance in day-to-day living (see the back of the poster).
Where Does Your Used Water Go?
Learn what happens to wastewater and the importance of treatment facilities (see the back of the poster).
Science in Your Watershed
Provides information about watersheds and a map locator for watersheds across the country.   Icon for lab resources
Water Education Posters
Download posters covering nine different water topics that are drawn in a cartoon format. Posters are downloadable in both color or black and white and some are also available in Spanish. The reverse sides of the color posters contain educational activities: one version for children in grades 3-5 and the other with activities for children in grades 6-8. The black-and-white posters are intended for coloring by children in grades K-5. classroom activities
Common Questions and Myths About Glaciers
Learn about glaciers in an easy question-and-answer format. Links are provided for more in-depth information about glaciers.   Icon for lab resources
Hands-on Experiments to Test for Acid Mine Drainage
Fourteen very basic exercises use home-made litmus paper and household items to test creek water for acid mine drainage and to look at plants, bacteria, and insects living in the water. Icon for teaching module classroom activities

Groundwater
What is Ground Water?
A very simple explanation of groundwater and aquifers. Diagrams are included.
Water Resources Professional's Outreach Notebook for Groundwater
Five groundwater-related lesson plans for grades 6-8, complete with forms, diagrams, and supporting information. Although these were designed to be taught by an instructor and a water professional working together, a thoughtful educator could easily handle the lessons on their own.
Recharge -- Discharge
Use gravel, twigs, and water to create a valley model that demonstrates the movement of groundwater (see the back of the poster). classroom activities
Groundwater and Surface Water - A Single Resource
This 79-page publication includes a chapter on the hydrologic cycle, and illustrates the interactions of groundwater and surface water. Discusses issues related to water supply, water quality, and degradation of aquatic environments. Although this is targeted to a more advanced audience, the explanations are very basic and include many diagrams.
Ground Water
This booklet describes how groundwater occurs and how its quality is assessed. Contains a good glossary.
Note: Older USGS publications retain the pre-2009 spelling of "ground water" as two words.

Seawater
Saline Water
Defines and provides information about the salt content of natural waters.
Why is the Ocean Salty?
Explains the origin of salt in seawater.
Thirsty? How 'Bout a Cool, Refreshing Cup of Seawater?
A brief explanation of the desalination of seawater.
The Water Cycle: Water Storage in Oceans
Easily understood basics about the quantity, composition, and movement of water in the oceans.

Floods
Floods and Floodplains
This easy-to-understand fact sheet describes why floods occur and discusses the basics about flood-plain designation.
Large Floods in the United States: Where they Happen and Why (Circular 1245)
A 13-page on-line publication that describes the geographic and climatic factors that influence the occurrence and impacts of large floods in the United States.
Significant Floods in the United States During the 20th Century
This fact sheet describes types of floods, how they are measured, and the 32 most significant floods of the last century.   Icon for lab resources
FAQs About Floods
Frequently Asked Questions about floods.
The 100-Year Flood
What is a 100-year flood and why don't these floods happen every 100 years? This simple fact sheet describes the statistics behind the designation and explains why regular measurements are essential for understanding them.
 

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