Vernier Science Education - June 2024


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Earth and Space Science

Phenomena to track through year?

Author Post
Cathy Cech Cathy Cech 810 Points

Hi. I'm looking for some ideas of phenomena to "track" as the year progresses. For example, during the first week of school I'm going to have a world map on which students will keep track of hurricanes, another where they'll track earthquakes, a bulletin board (or binder or something...) to keep track of "Earth Science in the news" articles. In other words, I'm attempting to help answer the question "Why do we learn this stuff", and I'm trying to improve both data collection and interpretation skills. Anyone have any other suggestions?

Nancy Stephenson Nancy Stephenson 2085 Points

Polar ice cap melting

Cris DeWolf Cris DeWolf 11965 Points

This site posts current monthly CO2 levels in our atmosphere. This changes seasonally, peaking in the late spring and then falling again through late fall. It may be interesting to track.

Cris DeWolf Cris DeWolf 11965 Points

Also, is there a river nearby? Stream discharge data can be found here:

Betty Paulsell Betty Paulsell 48560 Points

The GLOBE website at has all kinds of environmental data that is collected by students all over the world. You will find all kinds of interesting things there.

Monica Holloway Monica Holloway 2990 Points

What grade do you teach? Perhaps your students could research on a site such as for some areas of high interest to them. I bet having a voice would be quite an inspiration!

Dorothy Ginnett Dorothy Ginnett 28250 Points

Phenology Wheels may be a good choice to use as art projects to track seasonal phenomena.
For samples, try the Wheels of Time and Place website at

There are several projects where your students collaborate with students from other countries. One involves observing the moon. Their website is down right now but if you email [email protected] and tell him you are interested in the World Moon Project he can send you additional information.

Nicole White Nicole White 640 Points

I am a pre-service teacher and I found all of these ideas very inspiring! I have copied and pasted them to my “future teaching ideas” folder and I look forward to implementing them in my own future teaching career. Would anyone have any recommendations on the most efficient way to have students track this data over the course of the year (science journals, digitally)?

Sue Garcia Sue Garcia 42675 Points

This may be something that does not interest you and it may take too much time. A few years ago, there was new highway construction near our school. The hillsides were cut into to allow additional lanes to be put in. This lead to fairly steep banks next to the road. Temporary green mesh was put over these slopes in an attempt to prevent mass erosion when it rained. It did not last very long. I went and took before and after pictures of the construction. I also took pictures of the slope before and after the green mesh was placed and when it washed away. I continued to take pictures of this one site over the course of the year (now 4 years have passed and I am still taking pictures). I pin up each picture after I take it next to the previous picture and we have discussions of what the pictures are telling us. This long term tracking of the erosion (also discuss where does the eroded soil and rock go) at this one local site is wonderful. Kids actually bring their parents to this roadside spot and tell them what they have learned. I also do hurricane tracking, but the students don't relate to a hurricane like they do with a local long term observation. This is just a FYI that might give you a different direction to think about.

Peggy Taylor Peggy Taylor 565 Points

This might sound boring, but my classes really enjoy doing this...we track relative humidity. On campus we have various places that we go to and use an instrument that measures temperature, a psychrometer. They are easy to make or to purchase. This provides an interesting way to see how the humidity changes from morning to moisture affects humidity...we compile the data to make a whole class then all class graph and usually the results are dramatic and easy to see. We measure on grass, on asphalt, on dirt, under bridges, in valleys. This gives students a way to do something scientific outside and be able to take data and do something with it.

Yelena Hughes Yelena Brachman 995 Points

If you have time (haha) you might have kids do a quick forecast on local weather. is a great resource that uses local weather stations (citizen science!). Students could also just doe "Weather Wednesdays" and chart it on the map you have up with red and blue sting for fronts and H and L for high and Low pressure systems.

Rodney Olson Rodney Olson 385 Points

You can find daily images of the sun at The students can observe how the number, size, and positions of sunspots change on a daily basis. They could even estimate the sun's rotation rate (even at different solar latitudes) by using the images.

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