FREE Resources: Earth Science, Weather, Climate, and Energy

from Educators' eZine

More than 30 Federal agencies formed a working group in 1997 to make hundreds of federally supported teaching and learning resources easier to find. The result of that work is the FREE web site. FREE stands for Federal Resources for Educational Excellence. The web sites listed below are excerpted with permission from the FREE web site. This month, we highlight web sites for earth science, weather, climate, and energy; in other months, we feature other subject areas. You can search our site for the word FREE to find them.

Earth and Environmental Science: Research Overview

examines questions that scientists are pursuing: What part do we play in earth's changing climate? What can rock layers tell us about earth's history? How can we understand the forces that lead to earthquakes and volcanoes? How can organisms live without sunlight? How do long-term changes affect earth's ecosystems? (NSF)

Teach the Earth

offers hundreds of teaching activities, visualizations, and resources for teaching earth science. Categories include biosphere, climate change, energy/material cycles, geology and human health, geochemistry, hydrosphere and cryosphere, mineralogy, ocean systems, petrology, solar system, and earth history. Special sections are provided on using data and teaching quantitative skills. (NSF)

Digital Library for Earth System Education

presents thousands of reviewed resources on atmospheric science, biology, chemistry, climatology, cryology, ecology, environmental science, forestry, geography, geology, mineralogy & petrology, hydrology, mathematics, natural hazards, ocean sciences, physics, soil science, space science, & more. (NSF)

Oceans Alive

explores the mountains, abysses, & other physical features of the ocean floor, as well as the movement of the continents, the water cycle, the four oceans, waves & wind, currents, tides, marine life near the surface, & ocean predators & prey. Activities are provided for learning about the water cycle, water currents, web of life, & tides. (NSF)


provides an overview of research aimed to anticipate disasters and minimize their effects. Learn about research on hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanoes. See what scientists are discovering about how and when tornadoes will form. Watch a simulated fire spread up a hill. (NSF)

Climate Discovery Teacher's Guide

includes lessons on how the sun's magnetism interacts with the earth's magnetic field, how scientists study ancient climates, how the earth system works, how climate changes over time, and how climate models are used to predict the future of earth's climate. (NSF)

Junior Solar Sprint and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car Competitions

focuses on designing and building solar and hydrogen fuel cell cars. Explore components of solar cars. Conduct experiments to improve car performance. Find activities for measuring solar cell output, tips on vehicle construction and transmission design, and formulas for calculating vehicle performance. See a list of regional competitions sites. Find out how to integrate solar vehicle activities into the curriculum. (DOE)

U.S. Antarctic Program

aims to understand the world's coldest, windiest, driest, and harshest continent — its ecosystems and its effects on global processes such as climate. Read breaking news from a newspaper written in McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Learn about important discoveries. See articles about a killer crater found under the ice and the melting of polar ice sheets. (NSF)

Arctic and Antarctic

looks at research being conducted in the two polar regions of earth. These vast, icy, inhospitable environments provide natural laboratories for scientists to study basic questions: How did the universe begin? Is earth's climate changing? What are the limits of life in extreme environments? (NSF)

MaudNESS Cruise

tells the story of a 56-day cruise into the Southern Ocean (Antarctic) to learn about conditions and events that cause ocean circulation, a key factor in setting the climate around the world. The story is told through the journal of a 5th grade teacher aboard the icebreaker ship. Learn about crew members (their roles and backgrounds). See instruments used to measure salinity, oxygen, ice, and weather. Discover what the crew learned. (NSF)

Visualization Projects

includes simulations of more than 40 phenomena: sea ice and CO2, climate change (230-year period), clouds and precipitation, coral reef evolution (starting 21,000 years ago), universal fire shape, fire twirl and burst behavior, tornadoes, thunderstorms, typhoons, El Nino events, greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols, polar vortex breakdown, CO2 and temperature, CFCs in the ocean, cloud evolution (7-day period), daily weather in the U.S., and more. (NSF)

Investigating the Climate System: Energy

offers lessons that focus on questions: Does ground surface influence temperature? How important is water evaporation to the cooling of a surface? If my town grows, will it affect the area's temperature? Why are summer temperatures in the desert southwest so much higher than at the same latitude in the southeast? (NASA)