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Activity descriptions for teaching geoscientific thinking

These activity descriptions were submitted by faculty in preparation for the Teaching the Methods of Geoscience workshop in June 2012. In some cases, participants submitted a supplement calling out the ways in which the activities explicitly addressed teaching geoscientific thinking for a course they had previously submitted.

If you would like to add to this collection by contributing an activity, please fill out the Activity Submission Form or the Activity Supplement Form if you wish to supplement an activity you have previously submitted.


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Collaborative Research Project: Geoscience Undergraduate Curricula
Barbara Bekken, Virginia Tech
Collaborative research project in which undergraduate geoscience curricula at Research 1 institutions are compared. This project uses the methods of science to explore a topic that beginning students can understand. This project uses rubrics for self, peer, and instructor assessment.

Lahar Risk Assessment
Declan De Paor, Old Dominion University
Students act as first responders assessing Lahar risks associated with eruptions. Teacher sets an alert placemark on the Google Earth web browser plug-in and gives students X minutes to decide whether to evacuate a down-slope town. Students collaborate by text messages.

Exploring Evidence of Plate Tectonics Using GeoMapApp
Sean Cornell, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
This activity requires students to explore a range of datasets that help substantiate Plate Tectonic Theory. Students investigate plate tectonic environments (convergent, divergent, transform boundaries), topography/bathymetry of continents and ocean basins, the distribution and pattern of earthquakes, the distribution of volcanoes, as well as ages of the sea-floor, and more.

Measuring the Campus Green
Paul Vincent, Valdosta State University
Students use basic tools to measure the size of one-quarter acre.

Energy Balance Game
Bob Mackay, Clark College
This online game activity introduces students to Earth's radiative energy balance. It also explores the use of a simple climate model in the attribution of climate change.

Riparian Plant Lab
Julie Stoughton, University of Nevada-Reno
In this field exercise for an introductory environmental science course, students investigate plant cover and type in a riparian area using transects. The final assignment is a lab report that includes a summary data table, a graph of cover types along their transect and an analysis of riparian health.

Investigating Stream Energy and Gradient Using Small Stream Tables
Beth Dushman, Del Mar College
In this Physical Geology lab activity, students investigate the relationship between stream energy and gradient by changing the gradient of a small stream table and observing changes in stream erosion.

Discovering the Principles of Relative Age Determination a Think-Pair-Share In-Class Activity
James Ebert, SUNY College at Oneonta
In this in-class activity, students are challenged to identify rock units and geologic features and determine the relative ages of these features without prior instruction in the classical methods of relative age determination.

Learning how to constuct a graph of a decaying isotope and using it in radiometric dating
Ntungwa Maasha, College of Coastal Georgia
Students learn how to construct and use the natural decay curve for use it in a laboratory exercise on the use of radioactivity in absolute dating.

Accuracy, Precision, and Topographic Data
Scott Linneman, Western Washington University
This jigsaw style exercise challenges new geomorphology students to collect topographic data and analyze its accuracy and precision.

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