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Architectural stone investigation - What makes great buildings?

Aida Awad
,
Maine East High School, Park Ridge, IL
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Summary

This small group research project, and accompanying field trip, gives students an opportunity to investigate issues related to city planning, building design and usage, and earth materials used as architectural stone.

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Context

Audience

I have used this assignment with introductory level physical geology classes. It works best as a follow-up activity after students have completed their study of minerals and the three major rock types.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

  1. Students are expected to be able to identify common minerals found in rocks, by sight, in polished slab specimens.
  2. Students are expected to be able to describe, using basic geologic terminology, the formation of common igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.
  3. Students are expected to be able to perform basic research using the internet, simple phone interviews, and printed resources.
  4. Students are expected to be able to create basic PowerPoint presentations.
  5. Students are expected to be proficient at working in small groups.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is most effective when implemented as a follow-up activity to the study of minerals and the three major rock types.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

The attachments describe this project as it is designed for downtown Chicago. The project is easily adapted for any other city.

The main goal of the project is for students to gain an understanding of the importance and uses of earth materials in building and planning major buildings in an urban setting.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This project requires students to synthesize large amounts of information and present it in a well organized and concise fashion using a PowerPoint presentation in class and an oral presentation on site.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students will have an opportunity to sharpen skills in several areas: internet research, conducting simple phone interviews for information, working in small cooperative groupings, creating a well organized PowerPoint presentation, and organizing and delivering an oral presentation to their peers.

Description of the activity/assignment

This activity is best placed as a follow-up activity to the study of minerals and the three major rock types in an introductory physical geology course. Students are required to work in small cooperative groups. Each group chooses a major building to research. The group divides the tasks associated with the research and presentation of information. The overall goal of the project is for students to gain an understanding of the importance and uses of earth materials in building and planning major buildings in an urban setting.

The general format of the project is:
1. Students research building design, placement and use of earth materials in a major building.
2. Students research the earth materials used in their building.
3. Students create and show their PowerPoint presentation in class.
4. Students prepare and deliver an on-site oral presentation about their building.

The activity helps students connect a basic study of earth materials to urban planning and living.

Determining whether students have met the goals

1. Simple grading rubrics are used to assess information presented by students in-class using PowerPoint and on-site during the field trip.
2. A follow-up writing assignment is given. Students are required to write an open-ended summary of their learning about the use of earth materials in major buildings.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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