Even in the human-altered landscape of New York, scientists can use the tools and laws of geology to understand the history, present and future of our planet.

How to Use this Video


In this video, we discuss how studying the rocks and minerals around us can tell us about the history of the planet. We also discuss what makes a scientific law and how those laws are applied in geological studies.

Find the video below, as well as some of the important science senses it features relating to using proxies, getting a representative sample, and deducing scientific laws.

Have thoughts about the video? What resources or activities have you used to teach this topic in your class? We’d love to know – share your voice by sending us a message below 🙂


Science Senses Featured in this Video

Data sense

Using proxies

Getting a representative sample

Knowledge sense

Drawing conclusions from observations

Nature of Science (scientific laws)

Activities & Lesson Plans

Geology field trip – find out information about your local geology and lead students to a rock outcrop where they can make observations. If you are in NYC, visit Central Park to examine the effects of glaciation (grooves, erratics, etc.).

Structure of Science discussion – the video presents an opportunity to have students think about the structure of science because of its focus on laws in geology. Have students work in groups to create a concept map that describes the structure of science. You can brainstorm the terms that should be in the  map together (theory, observation, model, law, etc.) or provide those terms to them ahead of time depending on your particular student audience. Compare the maps that the students came up with. Are there any commonalities? Try to build a structure together as a class.

Proxies – like the astronomy video, the geology video brings the opportunity to discuss proxies. We don’t have a time machine to visit the past and watch our planet form, so we need to be able to draw conclusions about the past from what we see in the present. Have a discussion in class about what proxies are, what assumptions are behind them, and how we know they are reliable.


Selected chapters from Earle S. 2015. Physical Geology. (Access the OER here.)

Valley JW. 2005. A Cool Early Earth? Scientific American.

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