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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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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.

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.

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