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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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Reasons for the Seasons
Jeff Thomas, Central Connecticut State University
The inquiry method and meteorological and astronomical online data can be used to elicit the inconsistencies of students' naïve ideas about the "real" reasons for the seasons. The first phase of this two-part investigation uses online meteorological data to identify factors that might explain differences of seasonal temperatures among cities These factors are used to hypothesize why differences of seasonal temperatures occur among cities. During the second phase, the variables and hypotheses that were previously identified in part one are used to design and conduct an inquiry-oriented investigation. Astronomical data is used as part of the investigation to "test" students' hypotheses conclusions are drawn then communicated.

Interpreting the Geologic History of Canyon de Chelly
Holly Godsey, University of Utah
The is a two part lesson designed to given in-service teacher an experience in field geology. The lesson is designed by Canyon de Chelly, AZ but can be used anywhere there are outcrops of two or more rock types.

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.

Calculating the radius of the Earth
Basil Tikoff, UW Madison
Science students often have difficulty thinking about large spatial scales. The purpose of the exercise is to redo Eratosthenes' calculation of the radius of the Earth using data from to sites in ancient Egypt. The excercise teaches about the methodology of science - how Eratothenes figured it out - rather than worried about what the "right" answer is. It can also be used to discuss the role of models in geological thinking.

Evaluating the lines of evidence for plate tectonics
Becca Walker, Mt. San Antonio College
In this in-class exercise, students compare several lines of evidence that support the ideas of continental drift and plate tectonics. Before the class meeting, each student is given a preparation assignment in which he/she studies one "continental drift" and one "ocean floor data" map. In class, students divide into teams of 3, with each team member having prepared different specialties. They discuss their respective maps and look for spatial patterns among the data.

Florida River Project: Semester-long group project
Kim Hannula, Fort Lewis College
Kim Hannula, Department of Geosciences, Fort Lewis College.This page is a supplement to the original activity description found hereShort description of the activity:This group research project serves as the focus ...

Exploring the Link Between Hurricanes and Climate Using GCM Results
Cindy Shellito, University of Northern Colorado
Cindy Shellito, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Northern Colorado.This page is a supplement to the original activity description found hereShort description of the activity:This activity requires ...

Demonstrating P and S Waves with a Slinky
Pier Bartow, Klamath Community College
Pier Bartow, Klamath Community College.This page is a supplement to the original activity description found hereShort description of the activity:P and S seismic waves can be demonstrated with a slinky. P waves ...

Making the "black box" model more transparent
Kaatje Kraft, Mesa Community College
Kaatje Kraft, Department of Physical Science, Mesa Community College.Original authors: Kaatje Kraft, Annia Fayon, Merry Wilson, Erin Peters, Nicole LaDue, Christy Briles, Jim McDougall, and Ron NarodeThis page is ...


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