John Wilton Kelley Ways To Teach Children About Our Geophysical Earth

John Wilton Kelley is a retired science and math teacher who graduated with distinction with a Bachelor’s degree in Science with a major in Physics, along with a Bachelor’s degree in Education. Today, more than ever, he sees a need for students to learn more about our geophysical world. Why?

Because as current and future consumers, it is this generation and our children who will make the choices that can change our geophysical world – for better or for worse.


The geophysical earth includes everything from the microscopic properties of minerals and rocks in the earth’s subsurface to earthly phenomena like magnetism and gravity, according to John Wilton Kelley. But it also includes how much groundwater will be left for future generations and global processes such as how earthquakes and climate conditions will change our landscape (mudslides, soil erosion, volcano eruptions, etc.)

Start by teaching our youngest children about earth, says John Wilton Kelley. And today, much emphasis is given to S.T.E.M. programs that seek to increase the number of children, especially of minority races and female gender, to study science. For even preschoolers, here are some ways to demonstrate our geophysical earth.

Create LEGO Soil Layers

To demonstrate the earth is more than what we see with our own eyes, create LEGO soil layers that show the 3 main earth layers of the crust, the mantle, and the core. For a more detailed earth cross-section, show all 7 layers – crust, mantle, core, lithosphere, asthenosphere, mesosphere, outer core, and inner core.

Grow Crystals in a Jar

Crystals grow naturally from water rich in dissolved minerals, from melted rock and even from vapour. Crystal growth can be duplicated by stirring 1/2 cup of magnesium sulfate with 1/2 cup of very hot tap water, then cooling in the refrigerator to witness molecules that are arranged in a consistent and repeating pattern. This is a similar process the earth uses to create expensive and beautiful gems like amethysts or diamonds.

Make Floating Magnets

To demonstrate the earth’s magnetic pull, there are many video tutorials on how to make a floating magnetic display. A circular magnetic disc is placed flat on a surface with the north pole facing upwards.  Then, another smaller circular magnet is placed on the bottom of a lightweight object with the north facing downwards. The two repelling poles will make the object seem as if it is floating magically in thin air!

Volcano Eruption

John Wilton Kelley knows that this is a favourite science fair experiment for older children. While it is not demonstrating the geophysical properties of the earth, it does demonstrate the classical chemical reaction between an acid-like vinegar and a carbonate-like baking soda.

Actually, crafts that demonstrate our geophysical world are abundant. John Wilton Kelley suggests floating solar systems, clay or putty mountain landscapes, terrariums and aquariums, rock or seashell collecting, and some exciting hair-raising electrostatic demonstrations.

Exploring the geophysical world through arts and crafts is a great way to spend time with younger children while teaching them how to care for our precious Earth.

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