Oceans, Climate and Atmosphere

Spherical rulers, manipulatives and overlays are great tools for the classroom!

Climate: Where There's Smoke There's Fire

The Coriolis Effect Lesson Activity

Authored by Will Robertson, Upper School Science Teacher at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, Bethesda, MD

In the southern hemisphere of a planet rotating from west to east (such as the Earth), the direction of the Coriolis force acts perpendicularly to the LEFT of the direction of fluid flow.

Download Coriolis Activity Sheet
Download Coriolis Answer Key


High School Curriculum

Surface Currents
Surface Currents (Key)
Thermohaline & Surface Circulation
El Niño and La Niña by Charles Dichiera

College Curriculum

Activity One: Radiocarbon by Ryan H. Glaubke
Activity One: Radiocarbon Answer Key
Thermohaline & Surface Circulation

Additional Curriculum Standards

Math & Science: Exploring Deep-Ocean Water Masses
Math & Science: Investigating Surface Currents Around the Globe

Jet Streams Lesson Activity

by Will Robertson

Jet streams are rapidly moving (80 - 140 mph), relatively narrow (a few hundred miles wide, and often less than three miles thick) streams of air found at the tropopause (the boundary between the troposphere and the overlying stratosphere). There are four major jet streams that encircle the planet - two in the northern hemisphere and two in the southern hemisphere.

Download Jet Streams Activity Sheet
Download Jet Streams Answer Key

Quantifying Plate Tectonics in the Classroom - Magnetic Anomalies, Euler Poles, and Plate Motions on a Sphere

Seafloor Magnetic Anomaly Globe and Map -- download article

Read more about Seafloor Magnetic Anomaly at University of Hawaii, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.

The motivation for development of Seafloor Magnetic Anomaly Globe was a perceived need for accurate magnetic anomaly data on a globe to be used in helping students develop a better understanding of core concepts of plate tectonics.

In concert with a standard Mercator-projection map (using the same data) we hope to provide students with tools to help them (1) improve their understanding of plate tectonics on a sphere, (2) correlate this understanding to its representation on more standard media such as Mercator maps and (3) develop an intuitive understanding of these processes.

Educational Approach
We have designed these globes to be usable across a range of educational levels. They are designed to be accessible to Middle/High School students, but also provide the precision and completeness to allow them to be used by upper-level Geo majors at college-level. Our experience is that even graduate students have found the globes to be the preferred vehicle for initial estimates of rotation parameters, before refining their data using the maps and mathematical analyses.
Kevin Furlong kpf1@psu.edu

Intrinsic to plate tectonics are a range of concepts that revolve around plate motions on a sphere, including rotation poles, angular velocities, and plate boundary kinematics. These concepts were key components in the development of plate tectonic theory, and serve as the underlying quantitative foundation for much of our understanding of plate interactions.

However, in spite of this underlying importance, these concepts remain difficult for students to grasp and quantitatively implement; in part because we often attempt to teach and subsequently use these spherical kinematics (awkwardly) using maps.

In general, globes currently available can be useful for learning these concepts, but are difficult to use in a rigorous manner that allows students to develop an intuitive understanding of plate kinematics, quantify that understanding, and develop the skills to transfer that understanding to comparable data in the more typical map representation. Here we present our approach to addressing this problem - (1) the development of a globe representing the current distribution of marine magnetic anomalies, (2) a comparable map, and (3) examples from a series of learning activities that utilize this global data set to help students discover and understand fundamental processes of plate motions and plate interactions.

Such foundational plate tectonic concepts as rotation poles, angular versus linear velocity, small circles and great circles are all easily envisioned using this explicitly global model and data set. The incorporation of the complete set of marine magnetic anomalies allow these activities to be useful for a range of students from Middle-school through University-level. Importantly students can compare observations and measurements they make on the globes with calculations they do utilizing map data and standard plate motion tools. The globes can be annotated using dry-erase markers, and measuring distances, angles, and orientations on the globe is relatively straightforward.

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Tools for Lessons & Activities

When used with Real World Globes' Spherical Ruler, these overlays can help enhance the educational experience in the classroom.

28 Inch Plain Grid Overlay


28 Inch Blue Atlantic Salinity Meridian


28 Inch Atlantic Salinity Meridian


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