Denver Earth Science Project

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Summer 2024 Camps for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students

We anticipate these camps being available in the Summer of 2024:

  • Academies for Young Minds:
    Grades K-8
  • Engineering Design Camps:
    Grades 9-12

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Denver Earth Science Project

To Find a Course

The courses available in the Denver Earth Science Project are listed at the left of this page. Please click on a course name to be shown complete course information.


The Denver Earth Science Project (DESP) Modules

The DESP modules deal with critical issues facing society and are prepared by trained curriculum development teams composed of experienced earth science teachers and practicing scientists. The key to the success of the Project is the involvement of teachers in the design and writing of the materials. Each module is designed to incorporate input from teachers and industrial/governmental partners to assure technical accuracy and relevance to current situations.

Teacher training workshops on each module can be offered throughout Colorado and the United States. The curriculum notebooks and resource kits are available only to teachers who complete a DESP-sponsored training workshop. Each DESP module is academically challenging, and does not lend itself to self-study. In addition, the pedagogical principles on which the complete modules were based would be sacrificed if the notebook material or activities were to be used without the benefit of the workshop training.

The 3 R's: Radiation, Radioactivity, and Radon

ThreeRsThe newest DESP module is an integrated science curriculum that addresses the physical sciences - what is radiation and radioactivity (alpha, beta, and gamma radiation, radioactive decay); the earth sciences - what earth materials are radioactive; and the biological sciences - what effect does radon gas have on human health.

Teachers are able to obtain the "Do You Know Your 3 R's? Radiation, Radioactivity, And Radon" curriculum notebook and have access to the module check-out resource kits by attending a teacher training workshop.

Teachers attending the training workshop not only do the "hands-on" activities in the three-week module, but they will also hear lectures by experts in the field of radiation and will take a field trip related to the topic. Teacher resource kits, which contain all of the necessary materials (including Geiger counter, radiation sources, etc.) to teach the unit, will be available on a loan basis to check out.

For more information about this module, please contact:

Chrys Kelley
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Radon Program Coordinator

To obtain a list of resource kit contacts, please click .

Module Outline

Unit 1: What Is Radiation?

  1. Have You Ever Been Exposed To Radiation?
  2. Electromagnetic Radiation Spectrum
  3. What Are The Sources Of Ionizing Radiation?
  4. I Can See Clearly Now! (Cloud Chamber)
  5. Keep Your Distance!
  6. Shields Up!

Unit 2: What Is Radioactivity?

  1. Do You Know Where Your Children Are? (Radioactive Decay Series)
  2. Time After Time (A Half-Life Simulation)
  3. Radioactivity In Earth
  4. Radioactivity In Water
  5. What Is Your Personal Ionizing Radiation Dose?

Unit 3: What Is Radon?

  1. Life Goes On!
  2. Radon In Your Lungs
  3. Radon: An "Uninvited" Guest!
  4. The 3 R's Trivia Challenge

The development and marketing of this module has been sponsored by grants from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. To date, 391 teachers from seven states have received this training.

Teachers interested in having a radiation, radioactivity, or radon specialist visit their classroom may contact the Central Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Health Physics Society.

Courses supporting this module are listed at the upper left of this page.

Rock and Fossil Hands-On Activities for Dinosaur Ridge Module

Dinosaur FossilThe "Rock and Fossil Hands-on Activities for Dinosaur Ridge" module for grades 5-8 teaches students basic geology and paleontology concepts. The module includes hands-on activities to model sedimentary rock and fossil formation. The rocks and fossils found in the Front Range of Colorado tell geologists and paleontologists about the past environments and plants and animals that lived in those environments.

Dinosaur Ridge near Morrison, and Triceratops Trail in Golden, display rocks and fossils that represent millions of years of geologic time. By studying the rocks and fossils in the area, concepts learned in the hands-on activities can be applied to the natural world. Teachers taking the course will learn how to sign up for school tours through Dinosaur Ridge and how they can help their students apply science concepts to the local geology and paleontology. By teaching about these natural resources, teachers model how citizens can help protect these unique scientific resources.

This course is taught at Dinosaur Ridge and includes field trips to the I-70 road-cut, Red Rocks Park, Dinosaur Ridge, and Triceratops Trail. Teachers will complete all of the hands-on activities in the module and apply what they learn in the field.

Courses supporting this module are listed at the upper left of this page.

Oil and Natural Gas Module

Drilling for OilThe "Oil and Gas Exploration" module for grades 7-12 teaches students basic earth science concepts through the exploration of hydrocarbons. The hands-on student activities use real data from industry, and follow a problem-solving approach. In addition, the module integrates science, mathematics, geography, economics, and social studies into a high interest topic.

Students learn about a relevant energy source through the teacher resource kit, which includes:

  • oil samples
  • a core sample
  • rock samples
  • maps
  • electric log
  • seismic section
  • a DVD presentation

The "Gushers 'n Dusters" simulation game, also included in the resource kit, gives the students an opportunity to see the economics of the oil industry as banks, oil companies, and drilling companies negotiate and do business.

Teachers are able to obtain the teacher resource kit and notebook for the "Oil and Natural Gas" module by attending a teacher training workshop. The workshop provides teachers an opportunity to actively participate in the module activities while attending special lectures by geologists and geophysicists from the oil industry. The workshop provides the necessary scientific background for the teachers to successfully teach the module to their students.

In addition, a local field trip to a drilling rig, production site, or other related oil/gas industry facility gives the teachers a real-life experience associated with the topic. Teacher training workshops can be held throughout Colorado and the United States. Teachers, members of local professional societies (such as the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the American Groundwater Trust, local museums, etc.) or anyone else, may help bring a DESP workshop to an area though there will need to be local or regional sponsorship.