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Petrology in the Field and Laboratory

Rachel Beane, Bowdoin College (rbeane@bowdoin.edu)

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: May 10, 2006

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


In this multi-week project, students collect samples in the field, analyze them using various tools and instruments, then present their results and interpretations.

Learning Goals



Context for Use

This introduction to physical geology project is accomplished during a weekend field excursion, four 3-hour laboratory sessions, and one class period for presentation.

Teaching Materials

See the sample Peaks Island Project (Acrobat (PDF) 35kB Aug15 05). The projects done by the class are new each year.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Selecting an accessible field area with an interesting problem to address is key. Also essential to narrow the focus of the project and divide it into components that can be tasked or chosen by small groups within the larger class. Tailor the project according to the field and laboratory resources available near or at the institution.


Assessment of the group project is done by evaluating the group presentation according to the guidelines set out in the assignment (see sample Peaks Island Project (Acrobat (PDF) 35kB Aug15 05)). Individual assessment is through an extended abstract each student writes.

References and Resources

Partial support for developing this exercise came from NSF 0126234 and NSF 9951390.


Geoscience:Geology:Mineralogy, Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology:Igneous Rocks, Metamorphic Rocks, Geoscience:Geology:Mineralogy:Mineral Analysis, Geoscience:Geology:Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology, Geochemistry

Resource Type

Activities:Field Activity

Special Interest

Field-Based Teaching and Learning

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Earth System Topics

Solid Earth:Earth Materials:Rocks, Minerals


Solid Earth:Geochemistry, Solid Earth, :Mineralogy, Petrology:Igneous Rocks , Metamorphic Rocks, Solid Earth:Petrology, Mineralogy:Mineral Analysis

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