Fun with Foam: Introduction to Strike and Dip
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 11, 2008
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This is a hands-on activity designed to help students better visualize and become more familiar with the strike and dip of deformed beds.
This activity can be used in introductory physical and historical geology courses, and can also be implemented as a fun 'refresher' in a structural geology course.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
Students should be introduced to the concept that rocks can be deformed (tilted and folded), and should have a refresher on the compass directions.
How the activity is situated in the course
This exercise is used as a short group exercise in a classroom lecture setting, prior to the laboratory on basic structural geology.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Understanding and visualizing strike and dip of sedimentary layers
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
Before this exercise, student should be briefly introduced to the concept that rocks can be deformed. I will usually show relevant images from the textbook regarding strike, dip, and basic fold geometry. In addition, I spend some time reviewing compass directions, and how to describe the orientation of a line. After the introduction, each student (or pair of students) is given a flexible piece of foam which is treated as an analog for a sedimentary bed. Students are asked to place their foam into the proper orientation, given the strike and dip measurements. Students are encouraged to help one another as the tasks become more complex.
Determining whether students have met the goals
I do not use a formal assessment, but the foam provides a strong visual cue to indicate which students would benefit from additional time at the beginning of the laboratory on structural geology and folds.
More information about assessment tools and techniques.
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