Mining and the Future

Posted: Aug 10 2012 by David Mogk
A historical map of ore deposits of Australia, Australian Mining History Association,

I'm currently attending the International Geological Congress in Brisbane, Australia. At this meeting I've been struck by the huge presence that the mining industry has at this meeting, with major sponsors that include Rio Tinto, BHPBillition, Vale, Xstrata, and the Moultrie Group; and the relatively minor visibility of energy companies in contrast to similar meetings in the US where oil and gas interests seem to reign (Petrobras being the only major energy-based industrial sponsor). The depth and breadth of the scientific presentations on mineral resources is hugely impressive: ore petrogenetic processes, geochemical and geophysical exploration methods, remote sensing, structural control of ore deposits, tectonic distribution of ore deposits, role of ore deposits in evolution of the crust, metallurgical processing, minerals that support emerging technologies. More

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"What DOES poison oak look like?"

Posted: Jul 16 2012 by Kim Kastens
Topics: Field-Based Learning, Perception/Observation

The front cover of the current issue of The Economist documents the power of modern science, celebrating the finding of the Higgs boson as "a giant leap for science." But the back cover of the same issue documents the abject failure of natural history education in America. More

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Too Fast to Measure

Posted: Jul 10 2012 by Kim Kastens
Topics: Temporal Thinking, Perception/Observation, Interpretation/Inference

Cover of Synthesis volume I'm thrilled to report that the book that grew out of the Synthesis project, the parent project of this blog, is now out: Earth & Mind II: A Synthesis of Research on Thinking and Learning in the Geosciences, Geological Society of America Special Publication 486, edited by Cathy Manduca and myself. It's available from the Geological Society of America bookstore

However, having shared my thrill at holding the book in my hands, I have to admit that there are some ideas in the book that I have already outgrown during the months that the book has been in production. More

"Some Students Will..."

Posted: Apr 21 2012 by Kim Kastens
Topics: Metacognition, Interpretation/Inference

Mediterranean Salinity Map Recently my "Teaching & Learning Concepts In Earth Sciences" students and I renovated one of my old data-using lab activities, from the days when I used to teach "Planet Earth" to non-science majors. The old version of the activity led students step-by-step through a series of manipulations of an on-line global data base, using a professional data visualization tool. The old directions provided a lot of scaffolding for how to make data displays of ocean salinity in and around the Mediterranean Sea, but little support for how to extract insights about earth processes from those displays. The new version assumes that students are already pretty adept at getting computer apps to do what they want, and refocuses the scaffolding on how to think like a geoscientist, how to think about the meaning of the data. More

A more nuanced view of Concept-driven versus Data-driven visualizations

Posted: Mar 12 2012 by Kim Kastens
Topics: Interpretation/Inference, Spatial Thinking, Perception/Observation
In several previous posts, I explored how Clark & Weibe's (2000) idea of data-driven versus concept-driven visualizations plays out in geosciences and how this distinction could be important as we help students learn to learn from visualizations. This semester, in my course on "Teaching & Learning Concepts in Earth Sciences," students found and documented visualizations that afford insights via spatial thinking about a topic they are working on for a semester long project. Applying the idea of data-driven versus concept-driven visualizations to this image collection surfaced several additional nuances to the categorization schema. More