Teach the Earth > Geophysics > Teaching Activities > Concept puzzles about geophysical methods

Concept puzzles about geophysical methods

Sarah Titus
Carleton College
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

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: Jul 5, 2007

This material was originally developed as part of the Carleton College Teaching Activity Collection
through its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.


These exercises can be used in class to insure students have a firm grasp on the concepts behind a variety of geophysical techniques and can take anywhere between 10-45 minutes.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



I've use these activities in a sophomore-level Tectonics course and also an upper-division Geophysics course. They help break-up the class-periods and ensure that I do not spend the entire period lecturing. The exercises are designed to fit on half-sheets of paper - this can be beneficial to either save paper or to give students two copies of each exercise, with one to turn in (so you can see how well they understand concepts) and the other to keep.
Designed for a geophysics course
Integrates geophysics into a core course in geology

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

These activities are useful for reviewing concepts behind gravity, magnetics, focal mechanisms, and refraction after discussion in class.

How the activity is situated in the course

These exercises can be used as quizzes for graded or ungraded assessment. They are also effective ways for groups of students to discuss geophysical concepts in class.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The major goal of each exercise is to give students some intuition behind geophysical concepts and how geophysical data might relate to geologic structures (without getting bogged down in the math behind each method).

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

Concept puzzles are ways to give students practice thinking about geophysical methods and problems. These are used as individual or group in-class activities that can take between 10-45 minutes.
Has minimal/no quantitative component

Determining whether students have met the goals

These exercises can be collected (and even graded if you want). The confidence scale at the bottom of each exercise can easily be removed it its not wanted, but is generally pretty interesting.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

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