Geology of the Earth and Planets 2002

An Activity rich exploration of planetary geology

With Paul Doherty, Modesto Tamez and John Lahr

Planets, orbits and rotation

Rectified Globe, Set up an earth globe with your location at top dead center and the north pole pointing to the north. The sunlight striking the globe is the same as the sunlight striking the earth.

The Annalemma, where the sun apears in the sky at noon each day.

The phases of the moon,

Dance of the Day and Year, act out the rotation and revolution of a planet.

Gravity Well, discover Kepler's laws in a gravity well.

Gravity Well explainer, feel the force versus distance in a gravity well model.

Gravitational Slingshot, A simple model

Earth Rotation, measure the length of a sidereal day.

Planetary Gravity


Your weight on other worlds Explo website

freefall, punctured bottle
magnets repel on a stick

candle in a bottle


Playdough Moon, how big is the moon relative to earth?

Spin a koosh, planetary equatorial bulges

Planet shapes, the fundamental building blocks of planet shape.

Tide-o-matic, explore how tides are made.

Solar Science

Solar Thermal Measure the total energy output of the sun using a liquid crystal thermal postcard.

Solar Distance Measure the distance to the sun using a thermal postcard.

Solar Brightness Measure the brightness of the sun compared to a light bulb using a grease spot photometer.

How to safely view a partial solar eclipse


Slinky models

Montana squeeze box

Shake table

Whose fault is it?

velcro quake

pasta quake

Tien's earthquake structure walls




Atmosphere and hydrosphere

Magnetic Atmosphere Model, stack magnets on a pencil to model the density of the atmosphere.

Boyle-ing water, boil water in a syringe by reducing pressure to Martian values.

Water Cycle Video, watch the video by Andre Zdravic and make a script for it.

Water Waves, measure them

Model of the earth's interior

egg/ clay model

Scale model of the earth. Eric.

other planets

Rotational angular momentum


San Francisco

Subway to subduction



PD magnet activities

Where's North?, hang magnets and they all hang in the same orientation.

Magnetic Poles, likes repel and unlikes attract, so why does the north pole of a magnet point north?

Magnetic Globe, explore the magnetic field of the earth.

Magnetic field of planets, images of planetary magnetic fields.

Magnetic Tape, use pieces of magnetic tape to model continental drift

Bits and bytes

magnetic sand in foam

Tien's clear can magnetization


Radioactive dating

dice model (Snack)



Jello volcano: Will come from Modesto

Pillow lava chocolate: Wil come from Eric Muller

cooling fudge crystallization

polyurethane foam volcano



PD craters, drop steel ball bearings into salt to study impact craters.

Crater Illusion, change the lighting on a crater and make it look like a mound.


Icy bodies, use dry ice on warm water to make patterns like comets with tails.



Modesto's navigation brochure activity.

Coral's topographic mapping

Iron Science Teacher topographic map.



sediment sorter



Settling Column

Turbulent Orb


freefall candle

freefall balloon popper

Seeing IR with a digital camera


Web Resources, a compilation of information on the web about planetary geology.



Return to Draft Activities

Scientific Explorations with Paul Doherty

© 2002

10 July 2002