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Physical Geology: Amazing GeoRace

Simon Kattenhorn
,
University of Idaho
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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 activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the 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 page first made public: May 1, 2008

Summary

Allows introductory physical geology students the opportunity to examine various uses of geological materials in society, in a manner that is also fun and enjoyable.

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Context

Audience

Introductory physical geology course for non-majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must be able to identify different rock types (skills gained in an accompanying laboratory component of the course).

How the activity is situated in the course

This optional activity is placed near the end of the course as an extra-credit opportunity (which is the time of the semester when most students are likely to participate) but is based on material learned earlier in the semester (requiring some brushing up on material).

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

Rock and mineral identification. Societal use of geological materials. Understanding of the possible sources of the rock types used on campus (local or not) and the environments (e.g., tectonic) in which they are likely to have formed.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students must think about why these particular materials were used for the purpose they observe, determine where those materials were likely to have been obtained based on their knowledge of the local or regional geology, and relate the materials back to a likely genetic process or environment.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students are permitted to work in groups, allowing discussions about how to correctly identify rock samples. Students must also solve somewhat convoluted navigational clues to on-campus "outcrops" to encourage excitement about locating the next outcrop in the activity sequence.

Description of the activity/assignment

The purpose of the activity is to get students out of the traditional classroom setting and to spend several hours navigating their way between various localities on campus where different rock types are used for a variety of purposes. Students are encouraged to bring along their introductory geology laboratory manuals to remind them of the techniques used to correctly identify rock types. The activity is designed to promote enjoyment of the task (clues need to be "solved" to figure out the location of the next outcrop in the sequence) and to encourage students to follow the task through to completion. As a result, students invariably spend many hours engaged in the activity despite the fact that it is completely optional.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students are required to individually email a set of answered questions (based on the characteristics of each location visited during the activity) to the instructor by a set deadline. The instructor then evaluates the student responses for accuracy to determine the number of bonus points to be awarded.

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