Steven Semken

School of Earth and Space Exploration

Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus

Steven Semken is Associate Professor of Geological Sciences and Geoscience Education in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, a Senior Sustainability Scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and Deputy Director of the EarthScope National Office at Arizona State University

Steven Semken is an ethnogeologist and geoscience education researcher who studies ways that place, culture, and affect influence modes of inquiry, teaching, and learning in the Earth system sciences; and how place-based education can contribute both to environmental and cultural sustainability in the American Southwest and equity and diversity in the greater community of geoscientists. He has worked extensively in Native American and Hispanic/Latino communities across the Southwest, and was a faculty member at the tribal college of the Navajo Nation for 15 years before joining Arizona State University. His current research activity encompasses sense of place in place-based science education; Native American ethnogeology and culturally informed geoscience teaching; geoscience interpretation in Southwestern National Parks; virtual field trips as teaching tools; effective teacher professional development; and regional and environmental geology of the American Southwest. He earned Ph.D. and S.B. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a M.S. degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. Semken is a Past-President of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, and has won several awards for excellence in teaching.

 

Materials Contributed through SERC-hosted Projects

Project Leader on this Project

Keyah Math Project part of Keyah Math
The Keyah Math Project has developed a series of versatile online activities in mathematical geoscience, using the natural and cultural landscapes of the Southwest United States as context and setting.

Activities (14)

Power Source part of Cutting Edge:Energy:Energy Activities
In this lesson-opening activity, students or groups are tasked to make concept sketches that track the source of electrical power as far back as they can conceive. The concept sketches reveal students' prior conceptions of the power grid and energy mix, and lead naturally into a lesson or discussion about energy resources and power production.

CLEAN Selected This activity has been selected for inclusion in the CLEAN collection.
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Volcanic Ejecta from Sunset Crater part of Keyah Math:Activities
Students are provided with equations and geological data to estimate the velocities and impact effects of volcanic bombs that were ejected during the last eruption of Sunset Crater, a young cinder cone volcano in northern Arizona. Click here to view the full activity on the Kéyah Math Project website.

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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The Epicenter of a Southwestern Earthquake part of Keyah Math:Activities
This activity guides students to use the measured difference in P and S wave velocities to locate the epicenter of a minor earthquake in the Southwestern United States. Click here to view the full activity on the Kéyah Math Project website.

Multiple temporal scales of landscapes and landforms part of Cutting Edge:Rates and Time:Teaching Activities
This exercise provides students with a timescale and list of geomorphic landforms and processes. The activity requires that students utilize their knowledge of process-driving mechanisms to place landforms and processes on a timescale. Students will encounter a wide variety of landforms and will learn how different processes occur on vastly different timescales.

Snow Melt and Stream Flow in the Animas River (Advanced) part of Keyah Math:Activities
This activity consists of a set of problems in which students explore the contributions of water from rainfall and snowmelt over the watershed of the Animas River in southwestern Colorado. Students first compute the area of the watershed (which can be done either graphically or by means of Google Earth), then use climatic data to calculate the relative volumes of water from rainfall and snowmelt. This information is then used to determine streamflow in the Animas River. Click here to view the full activity on the Kéyah Math Project website.


Measuring the Size of the Earth part of Keyah Math:Activities
In this activity, students explore the method used by Eratosthenes to estimate the circumference of the earth. After engaging with the geometry and data Eratosthenes used, students compute the radius and volume of the Earth. Click here to view the full activity on the Kéyah Math Project website.

Measuring the Size of the Earth from Arizona part of Keyah Math:Activities
In this activity, students use the geometric method of Eratosthenes and geographic data from Arizona to estimate the circumference of the earth. The circumference is then used to compute the radius and volume of the Earth. Click here to view the full activity on the Kéyah Math Project website.

Impact Processes at Meteor Crater part of Keyah Math:Activities
In this activity, students are introduced to impact processes in a study of Meteor Crater in northern Arizona. They are guided in the use of a set of relatively simple formulas from physics to estimate the energy of impact and the size of the impactor that formed the crater. Click here to view the full activity on the Kéyah Math Project website.

Ages of Rocks and the Earth part of Keyah Math:Activities
This activity introduces students to the mathematics of radiometric dating. Students first apply the rubidium-strontium isotopic system to date rock samples from the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, and then to date a meteorite and estimate the absolute age of the Earth. Click here to view the full activity on the Kéyah Math Project website.

Mass and Density of the Earth part of Keyah Math:Activities
This activity is intended as a follow-up to the Measuring the Size of the Earth and Measuring the Size of the Earth from Arizona activities. Students use data on the radius and volume of Earth, Newton's Law of Gravitational Attraction, and density equations to compute the mass and density of Earth. Click here to view the full activity on the Kéyah Math Project website.

Layers of the Earth part of Keyah Math:Activities
Students use graphs of seismic wave travel times, and value for the diameter of Earth obtained in the Size of the Earth activity, to investigate the internal structure of the Earth and determine that it is layered. Click here to view the full activity on the Kéyah Math Project website.

Geochronology in the San Juan Mountains (Advanced) part of Keyah Math:Activities
This is a mathematically more advanced version of the Ages of Rocks and the Earth activity that introduces students to the mathematics of radiometric dating. Students derive the decay equation for the rubidium-strontium isotopic system, then apply it to date rock samples from the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado and a meteorite assumed to be approximately coeval with the Earth. Click here to view the full activity on the Kéyah Math Project website.

Impact Processes at Meteor Crater (Advanced) part of Keyah Math:Activities
This is a more mathematically advanced version of the Impact Processes activity that introduces students to impact geology in a study of Meteor Crater in northern Arizona. Students use a set of formulas from physics and power regression on real data to determine the energy released on impact and the size of the impactor that formed the crater. Click here to view the full activity on the Kéyah Math Project website.

Stream Flow in the Animas River part of Keyah Math:Activities
This activity consists of a set of problems in which students explore a simplified method for predicting streamflow in the Animas River in southwestern Colorado. Students first compute the area of the watershed (either graphically or by means of Google Earth), then use precipitation data to calculate the volume of water contributed to the watershed. This information is then used to determine the annual streamflow. Click here to view the full activity on the Kéyah Math Project website.

Course

Earth Science in Arizona and the Southwest part of Integrate:Workshops:Systems, Society, Sustainability and the Geosciences:Courses
ESAS is a place-based course in which students apply Earth system sciences to interpret the rocks, landscapes, geologic history, climate, resources, and natural hazards of Arizona and the surrounding desert-mountain Southwest region. The course focuses on local and regional environments and communities, integrates scientific and humanistic ideas, and incorporates case studies of Earth system interactions by Southwest cultures past and present, to demonstrate the relevance of Earth science to sustainability in the Southwest region.

Essays (4)

Copper Triangle Pilot Project: Enhancing Opportunities for Geoscience Studies and Careers in a Culturally Diverse, Underserved Rural Mining Area part of Integrate:Workshops:Broadening Access to the Earth and Environmental Sciences:Essays
Steven Semken, Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus The Copper Triangle Pilot Project (CTPP) is an NSF Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity grant project (GEO-1108044) ...

The Relevance of Place and Sense of Place to Sustainability part of Integrate:Workshops:Systems, Society, Sustainability and the Geosciences:Essays
Steven Semken, School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State UniversityIn response to sprawl and globalization that challenge integrity of ecosystems and diversity of cultures (i.e., environmental ...

Interpreting Geologic Time in Natural Landscapes part of Workshop 2012:Essays
Steve Semken, School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University Geologic time is so fundamental to the Earth, environmental, biological, and space sciences that anyone who teaches in these ...

Steven Semken part of Cutting Edge:Affective Domain:Workshop 07:Workshop Participants
School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University Homepage What are the key issues related to the role of the affective domain in teaching geoscience that you would like to engage at the workshop? ...

Other Contributions (3)

B.A. in Earth and Environmental Studies, Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus part of Building Strong Geoscience Departments:Curricula & Programs:Curriculum Profiles
Information for this profile was provided by Steven Semken, Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus. Information is also available on the program website. Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors ...

Earth is Our Spaceship part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:First Day of Class:Activities
Steven Semken, Arizona State University Course: Introduction to Geology I (Physical) 220 students Presenting students with a realistic problem-solving task draws them in. The Activity Before doing any lecturing, I ...

Place Attachment Inventory (PAI) part of Cutting Edge:Student Learning: Observing and Assessing:Activities
This is an experimental psychometric instrument that measures an individual's attachment to specific or general places, by means of two dimensions: self-identification with a place, and the capacity of the place to support a person's activities or goals. The 12 items used in the PAI were devised, normed, and validated by Williams and Vaske (2003) and adapted for use in geoscience courses by Semken and Piburn (2004, 2005).


Events and Communities

Active Learning Workshop 2012 Participants: Presenter

Student Learning: Observing and Assessing 2005 Participants

Affective Domain 2007 Participants

Energy Workshop 2009 Participants

Career Prep Workshop 2010 Participants: Leader

Student Motivation and the Affective Domain

Temporal Learning Journal Club

Early Career '02 Participants

Climate and Energy Webinar Participants April, 2011: Leader

Teaching About Time Workshop 2012: Leader

InTeGrate Sustainability Courses Workshop July 2012

InTeGrate Broadening Access Workshop: Leader