4 Earth Science

Last update: June 3/20

The Digital Geology Kit

View high-quality photos and videos of rocks, minerals, and fossils. Requires a free Open University account.

Fluid Pressure and Flow (PhET) (CC BY)

Useful for intro hydrology or maybe fluid flow in sedimentology. Simulates reshaping a pipe to show and measure fluid flow. You can also add friction to the sides and change density to show different media. Comparing flow of high to low density could possibly be used as an example for ice flow vs. water flow or types of lava.

Gas Properties (PhET) (CC BY)

Introductory earth science. Good demonstration of the ideal gas law. Students can play around with temperature, volume, pressure, and number of molecules and see how the properties of the system change. Includes the kinetic theory of gases.

Geoscience Online Teaching Resources

Collaborative spreadsheet. Divided into pages for online lectures, online labs and field trips, videos, volunteer guest lecturers, other earth science online resources, and requests for help finding resources. If you would like to recommend any specific resources from this spreadsheet for BCcampus’ Virtual Lab and Science Resource Directory, please contact BCcampus Support.

Glaciers (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year earth science. Interesting model of a glacier. Students can adjust temperature and snowfall and see how a glacier reacts. You can also watch how objects move through glaciers and measure speeds and T at different points. Requires Java and a download.

Gravity Force Lab and Gravity Force Lab: Basics (PhET) (CC BY)

Useful for exploring gravitational attraction of two bodies at an introductory level. You adjust the size and distance between objects and see the resulting force.

The Greenhouse Effect (PhET) (CC BY)

Introductory earth science. Nice model of the effect of greenhouse gases on infrared radiation and temperature.

Hominid Skull Evolution

Useful for an introduction to historical geology course, but could be scaled to a higher level course with more instruction. 3D scanned models of various hominid skulls. Useful that students can rotate and measure different parts of the skull. Would need some explanation and guidance. Comes with a short assignment placing the skulls in the appropriate evolutionary context. Requires Java and a free Open University account.

Igneous & Metamorphic Rock

Introductory earth science. High resolution, zoomable images of 15 igneous and metamorphic rocks and 12 minerals from the UK. Requires a free Open University account.

Magnet and Compass (PhET) (CC BY)

Introductory earth science or oceanography. This is a simple and effective tool for teaching Earth’s magnetic field and sea floor spreading. You can position a compass to see where it points at different locations in a magnetic field, and then do the same for Earth. You can even flip polarities. Requires Java.

Maps and Landforms

Great series of exercises on map reading. UK-focused: the grid reference section has British examples and all the maps are in the UK. The exercises are still useful and you could either skip the grid reference section or use it anyway. A couple of small problems that students should know about in advance (e.g., slide 8 is blank). Requires a free Open University account.

pH Scale (PhET) (CC BY)

Introductory oceanography. Good model to introduce pH.

Plate Tectonics (PhET) (CC BY)

Introductory geology. Nice models of different boundary and crust types. Requires Java.

Radioactive Dating Game (PhET) (CC BY)

Appropriate for different introductory courses, such as in physical and historical geology or paleontology. Some simple animations for decay rates and half-life. Dating game is interesting because students have to pick appropriate isotope pair and properly manipulate decay curve. Requires Java.

Sorting Out Soils

Introductory earth science. Virtual field trip to examine various soils around the River Teign in Devon County in southwest England. Requires a free Open University account.

Under Pressure (PhET) (CC BY)

Introductory geology or oceanography. Fairly simple HTML model for how depth and fluid density affect pressure.

Virtual Courseware for Earth and Environmental Sciences

A series of activities, labs, and quizzes about various earth and environmental science concepts, such as earthquakes, global warming, geologic time and dating, and river processes. The earthquake module is also available in Spanish.

Virtual Microscope for Earth Sciences

This could be used for many different subjects: mineralogy, petrology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, ore deposits, etc. Excellent resource with dozens of rotatable hand samples and zoomable thin sections of rocks and minerals (visible in both PPL and XPL, in some cases). Requires a free Open University account.

Virtual Ocean Dives

Google Play or Apple Store application. From the Open University site: A VR opportunity to experience a series of dives in a submersible at key locations around the world. The dives are designed to provide students with 3D interactive visualizations of the complex ocean and how ocean processes vary across the planet. When integrated with exercises around scientific observations or critical real-world problems, such as ocean acidification, it will provide students with an opportunity to gather observations from a submersible and experience practical ocean science.

Virtual Petrographic Microscope

Useful for many subjects, such as mineralogy, petrology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, ore deposits, etc. Many rock and mineral samples observed through a microscope.

Waves Intro, Wave on a String, and Wave Interference (PhET) (CC BY)

Introductory geology and oceanography. First activity is comparing water, sound, and light. Second is a simple HTML model for waves. Third is an HTML model for visualizing wave interference and diffraction.


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Virtual Lab and Science Resource Directory by BCcampus is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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