Earth Sciences High School Outreach Programs

Plate Tectonics

An exploration of plate tectonic boundary activities and the natural hazards associated with them. Participants will use the scientific method and interactive models to investigate the response of crustal materials to divergence, convergence and transform plate interactions. Activities include jumping to see a seismometer respond to seismic waves, watching a model of the earth's crust rifting, and creating a mini tsunami.

This workshop is 1.5 hours in duration and corresponds to Grade 8 earth science requirements. Target group size 15-40 participants.

Climate, Carbon, and Consumption

Many students will be familiar with the idea of climate change- after all, buzzwords like “global warming” and “lowering emissions” are everywhere, and with social media increasing our connectivity around the world, we are provided with more and more examples of how we are affecting the world around us.  In this workshop, students will explore some of the main scientific concepts behind climate change, and work towards answering questions such as:

  • Where does carbon come from and where does it go?
  • What is the greenhouse gas effect?
  • Where do we get energy from and where does it go?
  • How do our actions affect the natural carbon cycle?
  • What can we do to lower GHG emissions?

This workshop is designed for Grades 7-9, and will be focused on curriculum content including the carbon cycle, effects of solar radiation, and the impacts of humans on the climate system.  Students will participate in large group activities and discussions, as well as complete a series of hands on activities and worksheets in small groups.

From drops to rocks, down below where does water go?

Age range: Grade 4-12*

Time for activity: 1.5-hour workshop

Communities around the world depend on groundwater sources as their only water supplies. In this workshop, students will be able to demonstrate and understand how water falling as rain is able to seep into the ground and refill an aquifer. Students will be challenged to think about the possible sources of water pollution in their communities and what solutions can they propose to mitigate the risk of contamination.

The main activity is to construct an aquifer and understand:

  • How does an aquifer work?
  • How is water stored in an aquifer?
  • Characteristics of the aquifer materials
  • Differences between surface water and groundwater (water quality)
  • Possible sources for contamination and actions to prevent water pollution in your community

This workshop can be done individually and students can take home their aquifer and share it with their families or it can be done in teams of 5-6 students per station.

*For grades 10 to 12, this workshop includes an extra activity that explores the use of wells and pumping rates. This activity will encourage students to think about how cities and communities protect their water resources.

Vancouver's Landscapes: Rivers, Glaciers, and Volcanos

Join us for a geological fieldtrip on Burnaby Mountain. This fieldtrip will teach students about landscapes of Metro Vancouver and their evolution through time. Students will experience what it's like to be a field geologist as they visit rock outcrops of the Eocene Kitsilano Formation along the Trans-Canada Trail. At the outcrops, students will learn a variety methods from our sedimentology toolkit to collect and analyze scientific data. Together, students will use this data (sediments, scales, grain sizes, structures) and interpretation charts to hypothesize about depositional environments of the Kitsilano Formation. On the hike we will observe several local landscape features (including, glacial landscapes, natural hazards, volcanos and erosional features). Students will learn how important Earth Sciences and geologists are to our modern society. This fieldtrip will take students on a 3 km-long hike to the northern side of Burnaby Mountain.

Age of Participants:  Grades 5-10

Duration:  2 hours (15 minutes in class, 35-45 minutes walking, 1 hour outcrop work and discussion)

Clothing:  suitable for weather conditions

Restrictions:  This fieldtrip is limited to 30 students.  Must be able to walk for 3 kms.  Please note this fieldtrip is NOT suitable for those with walking disabilities

Hydrology: Water, Society, and the Environment

Target Age: Grades 7-11

Length: 1:30 – 2:00 hrs

In this workshop, students will learn about the water cycle as it applies to the environment and society. Students will use maps and environmental data to determine how water gets from the mountains to the ocean in British Columbia and the obstacles water faces along the way. Students will also explore the concept of shared resources in a mock “Town Hall” meeting. In this activity, each student will play the role of a stakeholder in British Columbia with a need for water. Students will have the chance to state why they deserve to be allotted some of the limited resource and members of the meeting will get to cast their vote to decide how the resources are divided.

Learning Objectives:

1. Describe the processes governing the water cycle on a basin scale and identify how each process impacts the amount of water available

  •     Processes include precipitation, surface water runoff, groundwater recharge, evaporation, and transpiration

2. Understand how humans interact with the water cycle and be able to identify various water stakeholders

  •     Stakeholders include municipalities, ecosystems, environmental groups, agriculture, energy, and industry
  •     Interactions include urbanization and climate change

3. Recognize common problems associated with shared resources (also known as the tragedy of the commons)

Impacts of Climate Change on the Metro Vancouver area in the 21st Century

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges to humanity today. What does climate change really mean? How will it impact students’ lives in 10, 20, or 50 years? In this workshop students will investigate interconnections between the atmosphere, the cryosphere (Earth’s frozen places) and the oceans. Working in groups, they will propose scientific hypotheses, make observations and do a series of activities to learn about the effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on · atmospheric temperatures, · ice melting in the cryosphere and · sea level change in the oceans. Students will use real data to estimate the impact of sea level rise on the Metro Vancouver landscape over the next century. The workshop concludes with a discussion on the impact/cost of climate change on their future lives and the local and global economy.

Learning outcomes from this workshop include:

  • Evidence for global climate change through geological time
  • Different sources of CO2 in the atmosphere
  • “The past is the key to future” - Current climate change impact in terms of sea level rise in the Greater Vancouver area

Grades 7-9

Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Workshop is limited to 30 students

Rocks to Riches

In this hands-on workshop, students will learn about natural earth resources with a focus on rocks and minerals. Students will discover the importance of natural resources in our daily lives. They will learn the source of rock and mineral resources, and that rocks are mixture of minerals. Students will be introduced to mining in B.C. and Canada, the mining life cycle, and practice their mining skills! This workshop connects to the learning outcomes of the Grade 5 and Grade 6 B.C. Science Curriculum, and Big Idea 7 in the Earth Science Literacy Principles.

Grade(s): 4-9

Length: 1.5 hours

STEM Topics: Earth Science: Rocks, Minerals, Natural Resources, Mining

Workshop Objectives: 

  • To learn what a natural resource is and their importance in our daily lives
  • To learn that rocks are a mixture of minerals, and rocks can be mined for their resources
  • To introduce mining in B.C. and Canada, and the mining life cycle