Humans as Geomorphic Agents
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: May 2, 2008
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
2) The class discusses the article in a 50-minute class
3) The students complete a problem set that introduces them to dimensional analysis, walks them through a comparison of the article's results to natural geomorphic rates, and explores how the author derived the article's final numbers.
4) Once the students are done with the problem set, the class discusses the results and implications as a group.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment (Microsoft Word 66kB Aug1 08)
- Pre-activity preparation includes examples of order-of-magnitude (back-of-the-envelope) calculations. I also explain how to visually (geometrically) measure the area under a curve, and what this number means (calculate total earth-moving from rate of earth-moving). I do not emphasize strategies for reading scientific papers, because this paper is fairly straight-forward.
The paper discussion includes each student's one-word reaction to the paper (interesting, boring, frightening, etc.). We also discuss an example calculation that would have been used in the paper, such as how you could calculate earth-moving for Roman road system. We look at plots to ensure that the students understand that unintentional earth-moving is more significant than intentional earth-moving. Finally, as motivation for the problem set, I make sure they understand that a comparison is needed to assess whether the human earth-moving is "a lot" or "problematic." We return to a discussion of this topic after the students complete the problem set.
- Solution Set (Microsoft Word 82kB Jul29 08)
Hooke, R.L., 2000, On the history of humans as geomorphic agents: Geology, v. 28, p. 843-846.
Some data comes from:
Hallet, B., Hunter, L., and Bogen, J., 1996, Rates of erosion and sediment evacuation by glaciers: A review of field data and their implications: Global and Planetary Change, v. 12, p. 213-235.