The Earth as a Laboratory

Professor Richard Yuretich

The Earth can serve as a laboratory for a variety of research themes. Some that we can explore within STEM Connections will be:

1. The Earth's changing environment. Global warming and climate change is a topic that is in the news almost every day. What evidence do we have that the climate changing at present? How does this compare to climate 
change in the recent and distant past? We can design research projects to look at both historical and geological data for different periods of the Earth's history.

2. Rocks around us. Why are there different rocks, and how do they form? We can investigate local geology to investigate the varieties of rock types and develop hypotheses as to how they got there. 

3. The water cycle. We will use the hydrologic cycle as the basis for studying water at the Earth's surface: where it comes from, how the amounts change on a seasonal basis, the natural processes that change the chemical composition of water, and practices that introduce pollution into the water. Specific projects to address these include monitoring seasonal changes in the amount and composition of rainfall and relating the data to weather patterns. In addition, we can investigate area streams to measure the amount of water that is flowing, and investigate how this varies over time and determine the sources of the chemical composition of the water

4. Natural hazards. Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes and floods present challenges to living on planet Earth. Where is it "safe"? We can look at our area of the world to investigate the risks from different phenomena and why the Earth is different from one location to another.