Hands-on Activity: Identifying Possible Underground Cavern Locations

Contributed by: Adventure Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Two images: A map of the oval-shaped state of Alabraska shows the location of geological formations and rock types. A photo shows a girl with a helmet and headlamp climbing through the rock walls of a cave.
Students work with scales and maps.
copyright
Copyright © (map) Adventure Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, and (cave photo) National Park Service http://www.nps.gov/wica/photosmultimedia/Cave-Photos.htm

Summary

Continuing the Asteroid Impact challenge, students use their knowledge of scales and areas to determine the best locations in Alabraska for the underground caverns. They cut out rectangular paper pieces to represent caverns to scale with the maps. They place the paper cutouts on the maps to determine feasible locations. This is activity 4 of the Asteroid Impact curricular unit and builds on the previous activities in the the unit.
This engineering curriculum meets Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

Engineers usually propose multiple solutions to problems, and then analyze each solution before selecting the one that best meets the criteria for success.

Pre-Req Knowledge

Understanding of length, width and area; ability to read a map.

Learning Objectives

After this activity, students should be able to:

  • Explain that the same area can be represented by various shapes.
  • Determine the length and width of a rectangle when given the area of a rectangle.
  • Apply the map scale to create a cavern area.
  • Synthesize multiple pieces of information and make a decision based on all the information.

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Educational Standards

Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.

All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

  • Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide multi-digit decimals using the standard algorithm for each operation. (Grade 6) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, volume and surface area of two- and three-dimensional objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, cubes, and right prisms. (Grade 7) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Know the formulas for the volumes of cones, cylinders, and spheres and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems. (Grade 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide multidigit decimals using standard algorithms for each operation. (Grade 6) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, volume and surface area of two- and three-dimensional objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, cubes, and right prisms. (Grade 7) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • State the formulas for the volumes of cones, cylinders, and spheres and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems. (Grade 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Develop and communicate an evidence based scientific explanation around one or more factors that change Earth's surface (Grade 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Analyze and interpret data identifying ways Earth's surface is constantly changing through a variety of processes and forces such as plate tectonics, erosion, deposition, solar influences, climate, and human activity (Grade 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Gather, analyze, and communicate data that explains Earth's plates, plate motions, and the results of plate motions (Grade 7) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
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Materials List

Introduction/Motivation

Today, your engineering team's task is to identify your best possible locations in Alabraska to locate your caverns. As you do this, you will get a lot of practice thinking about length, width and area!

First, figure out the shape and dimensions of the cavern you imagine, making sure to size it to provide enough shelter space. Then, make rectangular paper pieces that represent the caverns—to scale—which you can place on the Alabraska map to find three possible locations.

Let's get going!

Procedure

Background

As necessary, refresh students' knowledge on how to use map scales.

Before the Activity

Gather materials and make copies of the worksheet.

With the Students

  1. Hand out the materials to each group.
  2. This activity builds upon of the relationship between length, width and area. As necessary, review how to calculate area when given a length and a width AND how to calculate possible combinations of length and width when given an area.

Tip: Draw various rectangular shapes on the board (with dimensions) and ask the class to come up with other possible combinations of equal areas.

  1. It is important to spend some time discussing possible shape combinations to match the total area of the cavern. It is okay if some teams want long skinny caverns and others envision square caverns. Some creative groups may choose triangular caverns or circular caverns. The key is that each shape must provide the necessary area.

Tip: After completing worksheet question 3, have each group show the class its proposed cavern shapes—its cutout piece(s) of paper.

  1. To complete question 4, student teams must synthesize all the information they have gathered thus far and propose three locations. As needed, provide assistance and prompts.
  2. Have teams share their identified locations with the class and explain why they chose those locations.

Attachments

Assessment

Worksheet: Review students' answers on the Possible Locations Worksheet to gauge their comprehension of the material and concepts covered. Refer to the Asteroid Impact Student Workbook Example Answers provided in the unit document for example worksheet answers.

Activity Extensions

Have students compare the sizes of different U.S. states or different countries in the world.

Copyright

© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2005 Colorado School of Mines

Supporting Program

Adventure Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Acknowledgements

Adventure Engineering was supported by National Science Foundation grant nos. DUE 9950660 and GK-12 0086457. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: April 3, 2018

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