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Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience > Interactive Lectures > Longer Activity Examples > Geologic Puzzles: Morrison Formation
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Geologic Puzzles: Morrison Formation

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This page first made public: Aug 25, 2006

This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project

Summary

Outcrop images (faulted strata, interbedded shale and limestone beds that have been tilted, beach rocks of different lithologies) can be used to bring the field into the geoscience classroom, giving students practice in doing what geoscientists do when they are in the field. These particular images are examples of interesting geologic puzzles.

Learning Goals

These images give students opportunities to practice interpreting the geologic history of an outcrop or other feature by having them

Context for Use

These images can be used in both small and large classes in various think-pair-share formats, with times ranging from five to twenty minutes per image. These images have been used in historical geology courses and could be used in other geoscience courses.

Teaching Materials

Fault with Morrison Formation on left side of image and Entrada Formation overlain by Morrison Formation on right side. Photo courtesy of Heather Macdonald


Potential Questions


Teaching Notes and Tips

One approach for using these images would be to have students discuss the image with their neighbor, asking them what do you see and what does it mean. To emphasize observations and to provide more structure, you could ask the students to

  1. make a simple sketch and/or a list of their observations
  2. make an initial interpretation
  3. share their ideas with another student
  4. list questions they would want answered to be able to make a better interpretation or to evaluate alternate interpretations

In either case, after a few minutes, call for responses from students. You might do this using a using a think-pair-share format. Be prepared for a range of responses including ones you might not anticipate. Student answers provide useful insight into their observational skills and thought processes.

The potential questions given below with each image are examples of questions to use as follow-up questions after students give their initial responses or could be a series of directed questions if you don't use a think-pair-share structure.

Assessment

This activity includes informal assessment of the class. You could also collect the sketches and or lists of observations and interpretation(s).

References and Resources

This kind of activity is described in Reynolds and Peacock (1988) .

Sources for images:


Subject

Geoscience:Geology:Structural Geology:Folds/Faults/Ductile Shear Zones

Resource Type

Activities:Classroom Activity:Short Activity:Think-Pair-Share

Special Interest

Large Classroom

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Learning Environment

Large Classes

Ready for Use

Ready to Use

Earth System Topics

Time/Earth History:Relative Dating, Solid Earth:Deformation

Topics

Earth surface, Time/Earth History, Solid Earth

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