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Volcanoes around the Globe (Beta test copy)

Mark Abolins
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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: Nov 24, 2008

Summary

Undergraduate non-majors use the Arcview geographic information system (GIS) to explore volcanic hazards and the geochemistry of volcanic rocks. Students explore geochemical data from the GEOROC global database and maps, satellite images, and NAVDAT geochemical data for the Mount Hood, Oregon area.

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Context

Audience

Introductory Earth Science for non-majors at a regional comprehensive public university

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students need a basic familiarity with computers, and they need to know how to interpret a histogram. They also need basic (Earth Science 101) knowledge about volcanic rocks and hazards. Students do NOT need any prior experience with geographic information systems (GIS).

How the activity is situated in the course

The activity is a stand-alone exercise completed individually outside class time. Students complete the activity in a computer lab equipped with Arcview software. Students can complete most of the activity without help, but an undergraduate lab assistant is typically available to answer questions. In the past, the activity has sometimes been assigned in conjunction with SAGUARO curricula developed by Michelle Hall-Wallace and others. The activity has also been used in conjunction with the Discovery Channel Virtual Volcano interactive web site.

Goals

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

Before completing this computer-based activity, students need to learn basic (Earth Science 101) information about volcanic rocks and hazards, and they also need to learn how to interpret a histogram. Students complete the activity individually outside class time in a computer lab equipped with Arcview3.3 geographic information system (GIS) software. They do not need any prior experience with GIS because the activity text includes step-by-step instructions accompanied by numerous screen shots. Students use the GIS to investigate geochemical data from the global GEOROC database and, for the Mount Hood, Oregon area, the NAVDAT database. Students also use maps and satellite images to learn about volcanic hazards at Mount Hood. Through all of these investigations, they learn about the connections between the silica content of a melt, volcanic hazards, and plate tectonics. Hundreds of students have successfully completed the activity at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN, but the activity is still considered a "beta test copy" and the author welcomes feedback. Funding has been provided by small grants from the NASA Earth Observing System Higher Education Alliance ("GeoBrain"), Tennessee Space Grant, and NSF.

Determining whether students have met the goals

The activity text contains questions, and students write answers to the questions on a sheet of paper. I generally do not score their answers (because of the large number of students). Instead, students complete related multiple-choice questions on a lecture exam taken some time after they complete the GIS-based activity.

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