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Theriak-Domino Exercise

Dexter Perkins
,
University of North Dakota
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Summary

This multidimensional project involves using several different computer programs to calculate and interpret phase diagrams and pseudosections. So, students learn lots of skills at the same time. But, an overarching strength of this project is that all the different skills integrate together to produce a final product.

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Context

Audience

I use this in a junior level petrology class. It is a group exercise. I think it would be very difficult for students to do it on their own – there are too many uncertainties and decisions to be made.

**Important: depending on the students, instructors may have to carefully introduce and walk students through this project before letting them do it on their own!

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Before doing this, students have already used TWQ to calculate and plot simple PT diagrams. And, they have already used Excel for some chemical calculations.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is one of a number of significant projects that students complete during the semester. It is sort of a culminating project after we have covered phase diagrams and the basics of thermodynamics. If they can master this and understand the results they have learned everything I want about those two topics!

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

After completing this project, students will be able to
1. use TWQ to calculate a phase diagram
2. use Excel to normalize rock compositions
2. use Theriak-Domino to calculate a pseudosection
3. evaluate and compare different approaches to generating (equilibrium) phase diagrams
4. interpret phase diagrams and pseudosections
5. students may also learn how to make good looking diagrams from computer output

So, students learn lots of skills at the same time. But, an overarching strength of this project is that all the different skill integrate together to produce a final product.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Because this project involves several different skills, all aimed at the same thing, students learn how to integrate/synthesize knowledge and thinking of different sorts. In this case, the whole is much more than the individual parts. They also must compare different approaches to problem solving, as they develop their computing skills. (And, perhaps, their artistic skills.)

They also must interpret the results of their model calculations and determine what the implications are for real world rocks.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students learn about using computers for modeling, and about data and file manipulation.

Description of the activity/assignment

This multidimensional project involves several aspects:
1. students learn how to use TWQ to calculate a phase diagram
2. students learn how to use Excel to normalize rock compositions
2. students learn how to use Theriak-Domino to calculate a pseudosection
3. students compare the results from the two programs and evaluate their differences
4. students interpret the results from the two programs
5. if used in conjunction with another exercise "Making Good Graphics with Theriak-Domino," students also learn how to make good looking diagrams from computer output

So, students learn lots of skills at the same time. But, an overarching strength of this project is that all the different skill integrate together to produce a final product.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Evaluation is done at several levels:
1. We check the diagrams and other products that students produce to see if they have obtained reasonable results.
2. We carefully evaluate the interpretations they made to see if they understand their results.
3. We ask them to explain their results by posing hypothetical questions on exams and quizzes.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Good supporting information can be found at http://serc.carleton.edu/research_education/equilibria/index.html. This page includes a link to pages about TWQ, and about Theriak-Domino.

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