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Grade: Middle
Subject: Science

#3228. Gee-Whiz Geology

Science, level: Middle
Posted Wed Oct 6 08:19:45 PDT 2004 by Steve O'Keefe (
Ripley's Freaky Fridays, New Orleans
Materials Required: Computer and Internet access
Activity Time: 1-hour chats
Concepts Taught: An examination of geological facts in a fun format

Teacher's Guide: Week #3
Friday, October 1, 2004
Chat at ePALS from 1-2 p.m. Eastern Time
Chatroom URL:
Log-in with your ePALS username and password
Chatroom Name: ClassroomCompanion
Chatroom Password: CHATNOW

Gee-Whiz Geology


Our planet is about one-third as old as the universe. Earth
is between 4.3 and 4.55 billion years old. The universe is
approximately 11.2 billion years old.

We humans are just babies in geologic time. Life appeared
on the Earth some 3.8 billion years ago. However, human
beings have been around for only 600,000 years.

Here's another way to think of it. If the entire history of
the universe was compressed into one day -- 24 hours -- the
Earth would begin to emerge out of cosmic dust at around
9:40 a.m., life would first appear on Earth at about 4
p.m., and the first people to walk on our planet wouldn't
show up until 11:59 p.m.!


1. True or False -- Due to global warming, the amount of
water on Earth is increasing?

Answer -- False. The amount of water on Earth never
changes. Water is continuously recycled, moving from place
to place but never increasing or decreasing.

2. The weight of the Earth is increasing by about 3000 tons
every year. Why?
A) The population is increasing. B) People are getting
fatter. C) Meteorites add weight to the Earth when they
crash. D) The gravitational pull of the Sun is increasing.

Answer -- C. The combined weight of all the meteorites
hitting the Earth in a year is about 3000 tons.

3. For every 100 people who reach the top of Mount Everest,
how many people die trying?
A) 1 B) 3 C) 5 D) 10 E) 15

Answer -- E. Over 1100 climbers have reached the top of
Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth with a summit
of 29,045 feet (8,850 meters). At least 170 people have
died trying to scale Everest. Only one person has slept
overnight on top -- a Sherpa named Babu in 1999.

4. How deep is the deepest human-made hole into the Earth?
A) 10 miles B) 20 miles C) 30 miles D) 50 miles E)
100 miles

Answer -- A. Actually, the deepest human-made hole is not
even 10 miles -- it's only 8 miles (13 km). It's called the
Kola Well in Russia, near the border with Finland. It took
24 years to drill! The hole is nicknamed "Well to Hell."


Not including flying, what is the highest elevation you
have achieved? Did you climb using your own power, or were
you assisted by a machine? What kind of machine (elevator,
car, bike...)? Was it scary?

Have you ever flown in a plane? Describe the way the Earth
looked to you from up in the sky. Were you surprised by how
it looked? What is the one image you remember most?

At the bottom of the "Well to Hell," scientists found rocks
that are 2.7 billion years old. Do you think rocks might be
smarter than people, since they've figured out how to live
longer than we do?

What is the most interesting thing you have found while
digging in the garden or the yard? How far down was it? How
do you think it got there? Do you remember what you did
with it?

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