Interested in bringing hands-on earth science activities to your classroom? The Earth System Science: Exploring Change in the Critical Zone workshop focuses on the complex relationships between geology, soils, climate, ice, snow, wildfires and Colorado’s water supply.

Target Audience: 5th-8th grade students

Exploring Change in the Critical Zone Program Guide

Exploring Change in the Critical Zone Curriculum


Foundations for Flow Module:

Students and teachers re-create a Colorado watershed from the bedrock up, and wear it down with constructive and destructive forces over time. They see our geological past, experience the sedimentary rocks on the surface, and simulate the massive uplifts and faulting that formed our mountains. Using snow, ice, summer rains and heat, they create snowfields, glaciers, streams and rivers, to grind the mountains down to the landforms that we see today.

Foundations for Flow Curriculum

Foundations for Flow PowerPoint Presentation

Earth Systems Science: Making Layers for Foundations for Flow (Video)

Dr. Suzanne Anderson in Boulder Creek (Video)

Green Lakes Valley Over Four Seasons (Video)


Ice, Snow and H2O Module:

This chilly session focuses on how weather, climate, snow and ice impact Colorado’s water supply. Teachers and students create and conduct experiments with glacial ice, and use measurements and math to understand the relationship between glaciers, snowpack and our water supply. They compare and contrast weather data and real snow tubes to solve a mystery, and play a fun game to understand how Earth System Interactions supply year-round water to Colorado, with only the occasional flood or landslide.

Ice Snow and H2O Curriculum

Earth Systems Science: How to Make a Snow Tube (Video)


Fire and Water Module:

Using computer mapping and hands-on experiments, students and teachers explore the relationships between ecosystems, wildfires, soils and water. They predict fire intensity and see how wildfires impact soils, erosion and water quality. They conduct experiments to help understand how different soils impact water flow and storage, as well as how scientists use computer models to predict the way landscapes and watersheds will change over time.

Fire and Water Curriculum

Fire and Water PowerPoint Presentation


Other Resources:

Fire and Burn Intensity Fact Sheet

FireWorks Curriculum Featuring Ponderosa, Lodgepole, and Whitebark Pine Forests

Results of the Four Mile Canyon Fire

USDA Forest Service Fire Ecology Curriculum