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USGS Education

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Science Areas Biology Amphibians Climate Change Ecosystems Geography Map Teaching Resources Topographic Maps Map Tools Satellite Imagery Download/Purchase Land Use History Thematic Maps Historic Exploration of U.S. GIS Geology Geomagnetism Astronomy & Astrogeology Plate Tectonics Geologic Maps Rocks & Minerals Soils Fossils & Earth History Caverns & Caves Coastal Environments Natural Hazards Earthquakes Tsunamis Landslides Volcanoes Wildfires Water Groundwater Floods
USGS Educational Resources for Secondary Grades (7–12)
This Web site contains selected USGS educational resources that may be useful to educators in secondary school grades (Grade 7 to Grade 12). 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 structured classroom activities

WWW resources - Digital data or images
cost items - Some items must be purchased

Biology


Birds of North America Taxonomic List
THIS WEBSITE MIGHT BE TEMPORARILY DOWN! A table listing birds of North America that is sorted taxonomically (by order, family, and genus).
Invasive Species
The best starting point for USGS information on invasive species.
Invasive and Endangered Species Podcast
This 8-minute podcast provides a nice introduction to the concepts of invasive and endangered species.
Wildlife and Contaminants
THIS WEBSITE MIGHT BE TEMPORARILY DOWN! A series of lessons targeted to high school students that introduces the topic of ecotoxicology and guides students through the scientific process of gathering raw data and drawing conclusions about the impact of contaminants on wildlife.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources
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!
Whooping Cranes
THIS WEBSITE MIGHT BE TEMPORARILY DOWN! 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.
Desert Tortoise Film: The Heat is On
Explore the world of the Mojave desert tortoise in a 30-minute film. Learn about desert tortoises, their habitat needs, and what you can do to help them.
Track Alaska Walruses
USGS Scientists attached satellite radio-tags to walruses in Alaska, which will provide estimates of their locations. Watch their progress!

Amphibians
Checklist of North American Amphibian Species and Identification Guide
Only covers North America north of Mexico. Lists are organized by family or by species. About 25% of the listed salamanders and 50% of the frogs and toads have their own page with a photo, description, and a map of their range.
North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP)
NAAMP is a collaborative effort that uses volunteers to monitor populations of vocal amphibians. Participants who meet minimum standards are assigned roadside routes where data is collected after dark. This program is currently only active in states in the central and eastern U.S.
USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI)
As amphibian populations decline, reports of malformed frogs, toads, and salamanders are increasing. Learn about amphibians as environmental bellwethers and Congressionally-mandated USGS efforts in support of amphibian research and conservation. Links to taxonomy lists, copyright-free photos, and a searchable publication list.   Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources

Climate Change
USA National Phenology Network
A partnership that brings together citizen scientists, government agencies, non-profit groups, educators, and students of all ages to monitor the impacts of climate change on plants and animals in the United States. The Web site provides training and resource materials plus opportunities to contribute as an individual or group.
Climate Connections: In a series of brief videos, USGS scientists answer questions from students and the public about climate change: Also listen to a 17 minute podcast about the basics of Climate Change: What's the difference between climate and weather? What is the carbon cycle? What are the impacts of climate change?.
El Niño and La Niña
A brief description of the El Niño phenomenon and graphics showing the differences between El Niño ocean conditions, normal ocean conditions, and La Niña ocean conditions.
Deserts—Geology and Resources
A publication written for the general public, it describes how deserts form, types of deserts, and landscape features typically associated with deserts. Learn about desertification as an indicator of climate change.
Geologic Carbon Sequestration
Looking for a simple explanation of geologic carbon sequestration? This two-page fact sheet discusses the major concepts and provides an excellent diagram.
Volcanic Gas
A fact sheet describing gases released by volcanoes. Volcanic gases contribute to the ongoing evolution of the atmosphere.
Climate Change Lectures
Online videotaped lectures given at USGS science centers that are related to climate change. Each lecture is 60-90 minutes long (including question/answer period). Most are suitable for high school audiences.
Melting Glaciers: Before and After Photographs
The USGS Repeat Photography Project for Glacier National Park pairs historic images of glaciers with striking contemporary photos to give global warming a face and make climate change a relevant issue.
Greenhouse Gases Classroom Activity
Students observe and contrast thermal properties of three major greenhouse changes over time for dry air, water saturated air, carbon dioxide, and methane. classroom activities cost items

Ecosystems
Lessons on the Lake: An Educator's Guide to the Pontchartrain Basin
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.
Land and People
Students look at interactions between people and the environment in three regions of the United States: Cape Cod, Los Angeles, and the Everglades. Targeted to grades 7-12.
Interactive San Francisco Bay Data
Look at plots of data collected from the water of San Francisco Bay, then generate your own plots using real data. How does a change in light penetration compare to water temperature? Does a change in salinity correspond with a change in chlorophyll?
 

Geography



Online Maps 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. Hundreds of interactive geospatial data layers are available for viewing or free download. 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 lab resources
USGS Education Map Catalog
Browse samples of popular USGS paper maps that are frequently used by educators. Order paper copies through this site. Where available, links are provided to pdf versions that can be freely downloaded. (Navigate to this site on your own by going to the USGS Store and clicking on "Education Products")    Icon for lab resources

Map Teaching Resources
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.
Exploring Maps
Exploring Maps is an interdisciplinary set of materials on mapping for grades 7-12.  Students will learn basic mapmaking and map-reading skills and will see how maps can answer fundamental geographic questions.  The map images and activities in this packet can be used in various courses, including geography, history, math, art, English, and the sciences.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities
Topographic Salad Tray Model
An inexpensive and easy way to create a three-dimensional model using topographic map contours.
Map Projection Publications
A list of map projection publications available from the USGS. Includes a link to an on-line version of the very popular USGS Map Projections poster, which describes eighteen different map projections and compares their different properties.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
Map Projections
Every map projection has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Learn about the eighteen most common map projections and how their properties and uses compare. A popular poster version of this information is available for free through the USGS Store (product number 16573).

Topographic Maps
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
All about USGS Topographic Maps
A comprehensive description of topographic maps and how they were made prior to the digital age.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
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.
Corn Maze Geography
Visit a corn maze and use these activities to learn about maps and geography.
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
How to Use a Compass with a USGS Topographic Map
Learn to navigate using a topographic map and a compass.
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
Map Symbols
An explanation of topographic maps and map symbols.
Free Digital USGS Topographic Map Quadrangles
Click on "Map Locator & Downloader" to download free USGS topographic map quadrangles in georeferenced PDF (GeoPDF) format. Paper copies (a cost product) can be ordered at the same location.
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 online 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
Map-It: Form-based Simple Map Generator
Enter the longitude and latitude of points to plot on a simple map. Download a postscript version of the resulting map.   Icon for lab resources

Satellite Imagery
Tracking Change over Time
Enhance students' learning of geography, map reading, earth science, and problem solving through landscape changes recorded by satellites in space.
Satellite Image Gallery
A special collection of satellite images that record beautiful sights, events of historic significance, and scenes that stir the imagination. Includes the 'Earth as Art' collection. All images can be downloaded for free as high-resolution JPEG files.
Free USGS Satellite Images
Most USGS satellite images are now available for free download. Download an entire scene containing all bands and metadata in a single zipped file. Access the data through Earth Explorer or the more user-friendly GloVis Viewer.
TerraLook
Download free georeferenced satellite images in JPEG format. In this format they can be visually interpreted and compared without the need for complicated software. Terra Look is a joint USGS/NASA project that anyone can use to see changes in the Earth over time.
EarthNow!
A mesmerizing, near-real time viewer that displays data received from the Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 satellites as they pass over the United States.
Earthshots: Satellite Images of Environmental Change
Before-and-after satellite images of environmental change events. The image sets include detailed descriptions of what occurred, a list of references, and a question/answer.
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.

Download or Purchase USGS Maps and Satellite Imagery
USGS Store
A quick and easy way to find and order printed USGS products: paper maps, books, and other publications. Also use this site to download free 1:24K, 1:100K and 1:250K topographic maps for anywhere in the U.S. in GeoPDF format, and to browse educational products. Teacher discounts are available for some purchases.
EarthExplorer
Free downloads of digital USGS data including satellite imagery, digital aerial photos, and cartographic products. Some high-resolution scans of air photography must still be purchased. Locate products by name, coordinates, or define on a map.
Global Visualization Viewer (GloVis)
The most user-friendly method for browsing and ordering Landsat, Terra ASTER, MODIS, and EO-1 satellite images and NAPP photography. Allows convenient preview of images and scene mosaics. All USGS satellite imagery is available through this Web site.

Land Use History and Changing Landscapes
The Southern Appalachians: A Changing World
The video and educational guide entitled The Southern Appalachians: A Changing World describe the Southern Appalachian Mountains and how the geologic events that took place millions of years ago influenced the landscape, climate, soils, and living things that can be seen there today. Spanning a vast area from Virginia to Georgia, the Southern Appalachians are some of the oldest mountains on Earth and are known worldwide for their unusual beauty and rich biological diversity. A video, a teacher's guide, and a free booklet called "Birth of the Mountains" are included in this comprehensive resource. A recent map, Geology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains is designed for educational use.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources
Land Use History of North America
Describes the historical and on-going changes in land use and land cover for several regions around the U.S. The section on Land Use Changes in the Southwestern U.S. A section for teachers is under construction.
USGS Urban Dynamics Research Program
Describes a project that analyzes land use change in urban environments in order to provide a historical perspective of land use change and an assessment of the spatial patterns, rates, correlation, trends, and impacts of that change. Includes links to computer animations of urban growth in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Baltimore-Washington Area.
Urban Growth in American Cities (Circular 1252)
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.
Population Distribution - Urban and Rural - National Atlas article
Article describing population change in the U.S. 1990 - 2000. Includes population numbers for each state and for the ten largest cities plus graphs and maps.
Analyzing Land Use Change in Urban Environments (PDF)
Four-page USGS Fact Sheet describing and illustrating the need for urban growth studies.
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. Some changes are due to natural causes and some are due to human causes. 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.   Icon for lab resources
Repeat Photography for Mojave Desert Ghost Towns and Mining Sites
Look at photographs from multiple years to see how human activity has impacted the landscape around Mojave Desert mining towns and, alternatively, see the ephemeral nature of some of the towns and the degree to which the landscape has recovered from their presence.

Thematic Maps
USGS Map Catalog: Culture and History
Click on "Education Products" then "Culture and History" to browse maps related to the exploration, history, and cultural resources of the United States. Most of these maps can be purchased in paper format. Map titles include:   Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
  • Indian Land Areas Judicially Established
  • Indian Land Areas
  • Indian Lands in the United States
  • Early Indian Tribes, Culture Areas, and Linguistic Stocks
  • Lewis and Clark: A Legacy of Science
  • Routes of the Principal Explorers
  • 1857 Map of the USA
  • An Emerging Nation (first map of the United States, made in 1784)
  • Electing the President (political map for 2000)
  • Public Land Surveys Map (1776 through 1965)
  • Outline Map of the United States
Federal Lands and Indian Reservations - Printable Maps from The National Atlas
Download or print maps showing Federal Lands and Indian Reservations in the U.S. and in individual states. PDF files print on 8.5" x 11" paper.   Icon for lab resources
Congress Congressional District Map - Printable maps from The National Atlas
Each map shows the Congressional District overlaid on top of State and county boundaries along with interstate and US highways, select streams and water bodies, and major cities. Maps are available in GIF and PDF file formats and print on 8.5"x11" paper.
Presidential Elections: 1789-2000 - Printable maps from The National Atlas
Fourteen pages designed to be viewed and downloaded from the web. The pages are a standard 8.5 by 11-inch landscape format. Each map is available in GIF and PDF file formats that allow you to view and print the maps on 8.5"x11" paper.

Historic Exploration of the United States
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

GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
Exploring Africa's Physical and Cultural Geography Using GIS
Use either ArcView or ArcGIS software to explore the geography of Africa through seven activities.
Digital Elevation Model (DEM) Creation and Analysis
Create a DEM using interpolated elevations from a topographic map and GIS software.
 

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-laps 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.   Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources
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!"
What Is A Bolide?
Learn how an asteroid impact may have contributed to a mass extinction and led to the formation of Chesapeake Bay.
Maps from the Astrogeology program
Global and regional maps of planets and moons.   Icon for lab resources
Planetary Image Locator Tool (PILOT)
The USGS has released a web-based tool enabling public access to NASA spacecraft images of the Moon and Mars. PILOT allows users to perform detailed searches to explore data sets archived from NASA space missions.

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
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
"Ring of Fire", Plate Tectonics, Sea-Floor Spreading, Subduction Zones, "Hot Spots"
This resource page includes links to USGS information about plate tectonics and volcanic eruptions including the geology behind the Cascade Range Volcanoes, the East Africa Rift, the Iceland volcanic rift, the Juan De Fuca Ridge and Juan de Fuca Subduction Zone, the Marianas Trench, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, South America, and the Hawaiian and Yellowstone "hot spots."   Icon for lab resources
The Interior of the Earth
This booklet is an introductory guide to what is known about the interior of our planet.
Major Tectonic Plates of the World
A simple map of the major tectonic plates of the world.
How to Build a Model Illustrating Sea-Floor Spreading and Subduction
Build a three-dimensional model using a shoe box.
Plate Tectonics Tennis Ball Globe
Create a mini globe that shows the major plate boundaries of the world.

Geologic Maps
Geologic Maps and Mapping
Geologic maps describe the rocks and soils at the surface, provide information about what rocks lie at depth, describe the ages of rocks and soils, and show where features such as earthquake faults and landslides lie. Geologic maps are made by studying the rocks and materials exposed at the surface and depicting information about those rocks on a map. This resource page is particularly useful to help students understand geologic maps of areas near where they live or study.
National Geologic Map Database
This exhaustive database provides bibliographic access to many thousands of geologic, geophysical, and other kinds of maps available in USGS publication, Web sites, and in popular science journals, etc.   Icon for lab 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. A paper wall-size version (one of the most eye-catching maps produced by the USGS) is available for purchase through the USGS Store.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
The North America Tapestry of Time and Terrain
The North America Tapestry of Time and Terrain is woven from a geologic map and a shaded relief image. This digital combination reveals the geologic history of North America through the interrelation of rock type, topography and time. Regional surface processes as well as continent-scale tectonic events are exposed in the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension, geologic time. This map is an expansion of the original United States Tapestry of Time and Terrain, produced in 2000.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
Geology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains
Created for use in high school and college classrooms, this double-sided USGS map consists of a geologic map, photographs of geologic features, diagrams of plate movement, and more. The map is a companion to The Southern Appalachians, a Changing World and the brochure Birth of the Mountains.

Rocks and Minerals
Schoolyard Geology
Structured activities use man-made features that are found in a typical schoolyard to demonstrate geologic principles.
The Life Cycle of a Mineral Deposit
Ten activity-based learning exercises about the uses of minerals and the processes of finding, identifying, and extracting the resources from a mineral deposit.
Collecting Rocks
Learn about different types of rocks and how to identify and collect them.
Metal Recycling
How much metal does the U.S. recycle each year? Annual statistics and information about specific metals can be found here.
Gemstones
Learn about the occurrence and production of various gemstones in the United States. The site is organized by state and gemstone.
Minerals Statistics and Information
This Web site assembles statistics and information about the worldwide supply of, demand for, and flow of minerals and materials essential to the U.S. economy, the national security, and protection of the environment.
The Lifecycle of a Mineral Deposit
This Web site is 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
Rocks and Minerals
Provides introductory information about rocks and minerals with a glossary of commonly-used geology terms.
Rocks and Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region
The landscape of the San Francisco Bay region is host to a greater variety of rocks than most other areas the United States. This introductory guide provides illustrated descriptions of 46 varieties of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks found in the region. Discussions about regional geology, the rock cycle, and mineral resources are included. Much of the rock information is applicable to any location and is not specific to the San Francisco Bay Region.
Mineral Resources Online Spatial Data
View maps and download data for the U.S. and the World.
Historic Events in Minerals and Materials
This report provides a review of significant changes in industries that consume metals and industrial minerals. It includes a timeline showing major achievements in mineral production and events that affected the U.S. mineral industry. These are related to overall U.S. mineral consumption and years of war or recession.
Minerals in our Environment
This report consists of a PDF file of a color poster (approximate dimensions 36 x 60 inches) showing how we use minerals in our everyday life.
Mineral Resources: Out of the Ground.Into our Daily Lives
This poster shows the common usage of mineral resources in our homes, offices, and equipment we use daily.
Mineral Use in Safety Applications in the Workplace
Find more examples of common uses for minerals.
Building Stones of Our Nation's Capital
This on-line publication provides descriptions and examples of all the kinds of stone used in the buildings and monuments in the Washington DC area, and discusses the impact of acid precipitation on our national landmarks. An abbreviated and updated version of this publication is available as a 2-page fact sheet.
The Living Rock: The Earth's Continental Crust
This 1 hour film provides a global tour of geologic processes through the eyes of several USGS scientists.
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.
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.
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.
Zinc - The Key to Preventing Corrosion
How do we use zinc? Where does it come from? How can we ensure an adequate supply in the future? Find the answers in this two-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.

Soils
What's in My Soil? Classroom Activity
Students separate, examine and identify the major components of soil to better understand how these components give soil its unique physical characteristics. classroom activities cost items
Introduction to Soils
This complete lesson plan teaches students how soils develop and provides links between soils, climate, vegetation, and geology. Includes materials for both teachers and students (handout, puzzle, field and lab sheets).lesson plansclassroom activities
Graded Bedding Classroom Activity
Students are introduced to the concept of graded bedding, in which particles are sorted by size as they settle out of suspension. Students will discover that water is a good medium to separate and sort particles, and that particles have different behaviors in water and air. classroom activities cost items

Fossils and Earth History
Education Resources for Paleontology
This Web site provides links to paleontological resources available from the USGS and elsewhere for teachers, students, scientists, and others who are interested in paleontology and related earth and biological science disciplines.
Fossils, Rocks, and Time
This general guide provides an overview of geologic time and the use of fossils to determine the age of layers in the earth.
Our Changing Continents
This general interest publication provides an overview of how North America's landscape has changed through geologic time.
The Southern Appalachians: A Changing World
This award-winning 25 minute film, co-produced with the National Park Service, explains the origin of one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.
Geologic Time
A brief online booklet that explains how the geologic time scale is defined and how the age of the earth is determined.
Geologic Age
Students investigate radioactivity as a tool for measuring geologic time.
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!

Caverns and Caves
USGS Karst Web site
Information about USGS research on karst aquifers, which are a vital ground-water resource in the United States.
The National Karst Map Project
Status of a project to create a national karst map in digital form, derived primarily from maps prepared by the individual States, and to link that map on a web-based network to State and local scale maps and related data.
Karst Topography - Teacher's Guide and Paper Model
A brief description of karst topography with glossary and questions to ask students. The paper model must be downloaded separately.
Sinkholes
A two-page fact sheet about sinkholes and their catastrophic occurrence in Missouri.

Coastal Environments
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
Wise Wetland Ways
Teachers use wetland "artifacts" to stimulate a discussion about how we benefit from wetlands (see back of poster).
Coasts in Crisis
This Web site 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.

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
Learning Page for USGS Earthquake Hazards
The best starting point for education links related to USGS earthquake science. There are separate sections for Educators and Kids, plus animations, photos, FAQs, and earthquake basics. Use the top menu to navigate to earthquake data and a realtime earthquake map.
Earthquake Science Explained: Ten Short Articles for Students, Parents, and Families
A series of short articles for students, teachers, and parents originally published as aweekly newspaper feature. Concepts introduced in each feature are designed to address state and national science education standards. Written by USGS scientists, the articles go beyond traditional textbook information to discuss state-of-the-art thinking and technology that we use today.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources
Living in Earthquake Country: A Teaching Box
This resource is an online assemblage of related learning concepts that focuses on teaching students about how and why earthquakes cause damage. Explores seismic waves, the predictability of earthquakes at specific locations, the difference between magnitude and intensity, the occurrence of earthquakes along patches of planar faults, and the potential damage caused by earthquakes. At the conclusion, students are asked to select the best place to live in the San Francisco Bay Area and to justify their selection by using the knowledge gained through this exploration.   Icon for teaching module  Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources
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.
The Severity of an Earthquake
The severity of an earthquake can be expressed in terms of both intensity and magnitude. Learn the difference between these two terms and how the scales are determined.
Earthquake Maps
Database of online maps and paper maps showing seismic hazards, earthquakes, and faults.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies
National Seismic Hazard Maps
Regional maps of projected ground motion and shaking intensity, plus interactive tools for creating custom hazard maps and custom earthquake probability maps  Icon for lab resources
Quaternary Faults and Fold Database of the United States
This Web site contains information on faults and associated folds in the United States that are believed to be sources of M>6 earthquakes during the Quaternary (the past 1,600,000 years). Maps of these geologic structures are linked to detailed descriptions and references. Many of the faults described in this database are in California.   Icon for lab resources
Earthquake Summary Posters
View and download posters that provide detailed information and a brief discussion about large earthquakes soon after they occur. Images include the epicentral area, plate tectonic environment, earthquake history, and generalized seismic hazard of the region. The posters serve as a one-stop-shop for information about large earthquakes that have occurred since 2002.
Earthquake Probability Maps For Your Location
Create a custom earthquake probability map for your area by entering your zip code or latitude/longitude.
Putting Down Roots In Earthquake Country
Booklets written for the general public to explain everything that residents need to know about earthquakes in their area: Where are the faults and what are the dangers? Why is it important to prepare? How do I prepare for a significant earthquake?
Earthquake Probability Map for San Francisco Bay AreaMap of the San Francisco Bay Area showing the probability of a magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake before the year 2036 on each of the major faults.
The San Andreas Fault
This general interest publication describes the San Andreas Fault system and its history of earthquakes.
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 teaching module  Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources
Earthquakes In and Near the Northeastern United States, 1638-1998
This thematic map documents earthquake activity in the northeastern United States from the time of the first settlers. A companion fact sheet is also available for download.
Earthquakes in the Central United States—1699-2002
More than 800 earthquakes are shown on this downloadable map detailing seismic activity in the most active region of the central United States.
Earthquake Hazard in the New Madrid Seismic Zone
This USGS fact sheet summarizes recent developments related to seismic activity in the central Mississippi River Valley. Learn more at the USGS Web site for the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
Bicentennial of the 1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquake
Several of the largest historical earthquakes to strike the continental U.S. occurred in the winter of 1811-1812 along the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which stretches from just west of Memphis, Tennessee into southern Illinois. In 2011 and 2012, events will be held throughout the central United States observing the 200th anniversary of these events. Download and print the Bicentennial of the 1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquake Sequence poster, and learn more about earthquakes in the central United States with the fact sheet Earthquake Hazard in the Heart of the Homeland.
FAQs about Earthquakes, Faults, Plate Tectonics, and Earth Structure
Tabletop Earthquakes
Construct a simple earthquake machine to demonstrate the principles of seismology. Includes supporting instructional material.   Icon for lab resources  Icon for cost of supplies

Tsunamis
Tsunamis & Earthquakes
The best starting point for information about tsunamis. Follow links to basic information and an amazing list of animations and simulations.
Can it Happen Here?
Could a tsunami happen in the Unites States? Here's what we know about tsunamis that have struck our coasts in the past.
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.
The Orphan Tsunami of 1700—Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America
Follow along with scientists as they discover clues about a mysterious tsunami that struck Japan in 1700. Could it have originated from a large earthquake in North America? Learn how we use the past to help warn of future hazards.

Landslides
USGS Landslide Hazards Program - Learning and Education
The best starting point for Landslide information. Quick links to "Lanslides 101", photos, glossary, hazards, and preparedness.
Landslide Types and Processes
This four-page fact sheet provides a brief introduction to types of landslides and mass movement associated with gravity and stream floods.
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 Photo Collections
Landslide photos from all over the United States. Additional landslide photos are here.
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.
Map of Landslides in the Conterminous United States
Download PDF files of maps showing the locations of debris flow (landslide) areas in the United States.
Riding the Storm—Landslide Danger in the San Francisco Bay Area
A catastrophic 1982 rainstorm triggered 18,000 landslides in the 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.

Volcanoes
Volcano Hazards Web Site
The starting point for all USGS volcano science. Interact with a real-time status map of U.S. volcanoes and follow links to a Resource Page for Educators, photos, web cams, volcano lists and information, and simple descriptions of volcano hazards. For region-specific information, explore the USGS websites for:
Volcanic History of Your State
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.
Volcanoes! Lesson plan
Volcanoes! is an interdisciplinary teaching packet for grades 4-8. Through the story of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, students will answer fundamental questions about volcanoes. Includes six lessons, a poster, and a teacher's guide. lesson plans classroom activities
Living with a Volcano in your Backyard
A three-unit guide that provides science content and inquiry-based activities about volcanoes of the Cascade Range for middle-school students, with an emphasis on Mount Ranier. Includes more than 30 activities, a field guide, glossary, and supplementary information. lesson plans classroom activities
Volcanoes
A 45-page online booklet that summarizes basic information about volcanoes: their types, different kinds of eruptions, related features, volcano research, and more.
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.
Alaska Volcanoes Guidebook for Teachers
Over a third of Alaska's 140 volcanoes have been active in the last 300 years. This online 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 many supplemental materials. lesson plans classroom activities
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.
Eruptions of Hawaiian Volcanoes - Past, Present and Future
Written for a general audience and richly illustrated with diagrams and photographs, this report describes the eruptive history of two of Hawai'i's active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa.
Mount St. Helens Eruption, 1980 to Now
On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens Volcano exploded violently, causing the worst volcanic disaster in the history of the United States. A 2013 fact sheet provides basic information about the tectonic setting of Mount St. Helens, landscape change, volcano monitoring, preparedness, and a summary of volcanic activity between 1980 and the present. The right side menu has links to six downloadable (MP4) video clips about the 1980 eruption, volcano monitoring, and volcanic processes. Download and print a poster: 30 Cool Facts about Mount St. Helens (free through the USGS Store).
3-D Animation of Mount St. Helens
An animation created with very high-resolution lidar data.
Predict an Eruption!
This highly interactive site uses animations, illustrations, activities, and quizzes to show how eruptions at Mount St. Helens were accurately predicted by USGS scientists, then allows students to predict an actual eruption using real data. classroom activities
Volcanic Ash
What is volcanic ash? How does it affect agriculture, transportation, communications, water supplies, and human health? Learn all this and more at the USGS Volcanic Ash Web site.
Yes! Yellowstone is a Volcano
The USGS Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory answers basic questions about Yellowstone in three online videos, each lasting about seven minutes.

Wildfires
GeoMAC
Use this interactive map to view the locations and boundaries of past and present wildfires.
 

Water


USGS Water Science for Schools
This site is the best starting point for a wealth of general information about water science. What is water? What are its properties and how are they measured? How is water used? How does the USGS measure streamflow and collect water samples? A glossary, picture gallery, and activity center are among the many additional features.   Icon for classroom activities  Icon for lab resources
Education Page from the USGS Water Resources Program
A comprehensive list of water-related materials created for the classroom and for the general public.
USGS Water Resources Web site
Go here to find historical and real-time water data for classroom use. Click on the Data tab to browse databases, reports, and information about streamflow, floods, droughts, groundwater, and the transport of sediments.
Science in Your Watershed
Find scientific information about your local watershed. Information is from the USGS and many other organizations. Includes links to educational information from many of those agencies.
Water-related Map Layers from The National Atlas
Click on "View Sample Layer" to enter The National Atlas Map Maker and zoom in on maps of aquifers, dams, hydrologic units, streams, glaciers, and water use for the United States. Create your own custom view and either print it on 8.5"x11" paper or download the data for use in GIS software.
Water Use in the United States
How much water do we use in the United States? How do those numbers change over a 5 year period?
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.
Ask a River to Text You with a WaterAlert
Incorporate real-time data in the classroom by receiving instant, customized updates about water conditions at a specific river through WaterAlert.
Water Education Posters
Download and print a series of nine posters with connecting cartoons that illustrate nine different water concepts: Coastal Hazards, Watersheds, Hazardous Waste, Wetlands, Water Use, Wastewater, Navigation, Groundwater, and Water Quality. Classroom activities targeted to middle school students are on the back sides of the posters: classroom activities

Groundwater
USGS Grounwater Information Page
This gateway to ground water information and data is an excellent starting point for learning about groundwater. Includes links to maps, real-time data, ground water basics, publications, and selected topics.
What is Ground Water?
A very simple explanation of ground water 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.
Ground Water Atlas of the United States
Learn about the ground-water resources of regional areas that collectively cover the U.S. and its territories. Text and maps are used to describe the climate, physiography, geology, land use, major aquifers, and ground-water withdrawals for each region.
Aquifer Basics
An aquifer is an underground layer of permeable rock, sediment, or soil that yields water. This site describes different kinds of aquifers and where they are located.
Water Education Poster - Groundwater
Click on th Groundwater Middle School poster to download and print a cartoon poster that illustrates groundwater concepts. A classroom activity about Recharge and Discharge is on the back side of the poster.
Sustainability of Ground-Water Resources
Ground water provides about 40 percent of the Nation's public water supply. Written for the general public, this online publication contains numerous diagrams and maps.
Groundwater and Surface Water - A Single Resource
Written for the general public, this online publication includes a chapter on the hydrologic cycle and has many excellent diagrams that illustrate the interactions of groundwater and surface water. The report discusses issues related to water supply, water quality, and degradation of aquatic environments.
Ground Water and the Rural Homeowner
This comprehensive 36-page booklet describes groundwater as it relates to problems that rural homeowners might encounter, such as digging a well, water-level declines, and contamination.
The Importance of Groundwater Studies
Why is the study of groundwater so important? Listen to an eight-minute CoreCast (podcast) that highlights six different USGS groundwater studies across the United States.

Floods
USGS Flood Information
The best starting point for information about current and past floods. Includes links to alerts, maps, photographs, and videos.
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 - USGS Measures a Century of Floods
During the 20th century, floods were the number-one natural disaster in the United States in terms of the number of lives lost and property damage. This 4-page fact sheet briefly describes the different types of floods and lists the 32 most significant floods during the 20th century.
What is a 100-Year Flood?
The term "100-year flood" is part of the national lexicon, but is often a source of confusion. Download and/or print this free poster that attempts to explain the concept, probabilistic nature, and inherent uncertainties of the "100-year flood" to the layman. Print full-size at 44" x 38" or on 11" x 17" paper.
Size and Occurrence of Floods
Students use macaroni or beans to calculate the statistics of floor recurrence (see back side of poster). classroom activities
 

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