PAESTA Classroom

Designed for the sharing of short classroom exercises and explorations, this database allows for teachers to search for materials and resources that you, the PAESTA membership, have tested in the classroom. The database contains short descriptions and examples of activities members have conducted with students, such as inquiry-based assignments to reinforce specific content, or as an extension exercise to increase the graphic literacy of students.

The database will be of the most use if you, the PAESTA membership, contribute the classroom-tested resources you have developed! Please consider writing up your innovative approach to teaching a specific topic for inclusion in this database. Descriptions should include the objectives of the exercise and why this approach was used.

Please be sure the materials you submit do not infringe on copyright or intellectual property rights – links and/or citations to original sources are required. Submitted examples will be reviewed before being placed online.

You can select one or more subject areas and/or grade levels.

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by Katie Bateman on July 31, 2013.

This is an activity that was modified from PDE's SAS resource portal.  It offers two mini activities, one student investigation and one teaching demonstration, for exploring the movement of convection currents. This lesson is set up to have students use Claim, Evidence and Reasoning to both predict and analyze the investigations.

by Theresa Lewis-King on July 24, 2013.

This is a revision of the Weight Though the Universe lesson found online from the Eisenhower Regional Consortium for Mathematics and Science Education at AEL (the original document is the first attachment below).  We revised the original version to one that uses the CER (Claim Evidence Reasoning) format. We have also included a student note format and a assessment rubric.

by Tanya Furman on July 21, 2013.

Sedimentary rocks provide insight into the changing environments of the past. Students should already know how to identify several key sedimentary rock types, and have an understanding of the conditions under which they formed. In this exercise students will look at sedimentary sequences that record the history of the western United States from the PreCambrian through the age of the dinosaurs. Students will evaluate data on two different spatial scales: (a) variations within Grand Canyon, and (b) differences between rocks at the western and eastern ends of Grand Canyon.

by Eric Kirby on July 21, 2013.

GeoMapApp is a free, map-based data exploration and visualization tool (see  Using this tool, we can explore how comparison of topography along different boundaries, both ancient and active, can provide a means for students to grasp the immense spatial scales involved in earth processes.

by Laura Guertin on July 20, 2013.

Discovering Plate Boundaries (DPB) is a data rich exercise to help students discover the processes that occur at plate tectonic boundaries.  DPB has been used with students from 5th grade to university level.  It works well over this wide range because it requires the students to observe and classify data.  It does not require prior knowledge of plate tectonics.  The exercise is built around global data maps.

by Tanya Furman on June 27, 2013.

Note: This is not an activity but rather background information on types of volcanoes. It can be modified.

See Also - Hawaii and Indonesia – Activity and Information for Students


by Tanya Furman on June 27, 2013.

Part I: Overarching Question: What is the relationship between the motion of the Pacific plate and that of the Hawaiian hot spot over the last 70 million years?

See also: Teaching About Volcanoes in a Plate Tectonic Context

Begin by examining a map of Hawaii that shows the entire volcanic chain including the Emperor Seamounts ( is one nice example).

by Tanya Furman on May 28, 2013.

This exercise was developed as a collaborative effort by the faculty in the Department of Geoscience.

The major source of power for industrial use, the home, and transportation comes from burning fossil fuels including petroleum, natural gas and coal.  To a lesser extent, wood and peat are also burned as a source of power but these two sources are less commonly used and neither accounts for a major fraction of the fuel used world wide.

by Bryan Brightbill on May 24, 2013.

An understanding of climate science and the processes that control Earth’s past, present and future climate is increasingly important for students both as potential scientists and as future decision-makers in our society. Before students can begin grappling with the concept of anthropogenic climate change, they must build the necessary vocabulary and background knowledge for participating in meaningful discussion about the natural climate system.

by Meredith Bembenic on May 24, 2013.

Central Pennsylvania is an area rich in natural energy resources with a complex geologic history. Classroom investigations often focus on how the modern regional topography developed following formation of the Appalachian Mountains. The last ten years have seen tremendous interest in utilizing natural gas, especially from the Marcellus Shale, as an alternative to coal and petroleum for providing electricity and transportation fuel.