State Map Postersubmitted by
Higher Order Thinking Skills:
Role of Activity in a Course:
Data, Tools and Logistics
As will become apparent throughout the duration of this semester, the landscape of the conterminous United States is highly diverse, and includes plains, mountains, valleys, prairies, lakes, rivers, and deserts that have been sculpted by a variety of geologic agents. The landscapes found throughout the U.S. thus reflect the interplay between geological processes and the underlying bedrock. The purpose of this exercise is to familiarize you with the "landscape" in a particular area, in this case, one of the lower 48 states.
Formally, the U.S. has been divided into several Physiographic Provinces, which correspond to regions that share certain geomorphic features in common, whether they be mountain belts, plateaus, plains, coastlines, etc. As such, the boundaries among the various Physiographic Provinces typically cross state boundaries, such that most states lie within more than one province.
As an example, two colored maps of the state of Virginia, downloaded from the Web here, courtesy of Professor C.M. Bailey, College of William & Mary) are attached. The first one is a colored relief map showing Physiographic Province boundaries, and the second map highlights the provinces themselves. Each map is accompanied by an explanatory legend about the various physiographic and geologic segments of the state of Virginia.
This assignment asks you to select a state, to learn as much as possible about the nature of its landscape and its bedrock geology, and to produce a report that explains how the landscape achieved its present configuration. The product of your efforts will be a poster (on a single 36x48" board), and a brief oral presentation to the class during the week before spring break.
One way to proceed is through a series of panels within your poster, each devoted to a different aspect of your state. You should make sure that an explanation accompanies each diagram. Things to consider include topography, drainage, surface features, bedrock, geologic history, and anything else that contributes to understanding the "lay-of the-land." Limitations of space will force you to be creative as well as to be succinct with your explanations, while being informative and at the same time avoiding overcrowding within your display.
You should select a state as soon as possible, which will enable you to obtain appropriate resources on a timely basis. Our EPSc library contains a set of digital relief maps for each state (or at least those that are available), which will enable you to gain a good feel for your state. Our EPSc library also is a depository for state documents, so you should be able to get started right away. However, it might prove necessary to contact a state agency to obtain information and maps (like the attached ones for Virginia). I must insist that each student select a different state.
After this exercise is done, we will hang the posters from the cases in the second floor of Wilson Hall. When we did this exercise two years ago, the poster display attracted a lot of attention and received a considerable amount of positive feedback.