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 and Associate Director for Public Outreach in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, and a Senior Sustainability Scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, both at Arizona State University.

Semken is an ethnogeologist and geoscience education researcher whose studies focus on the influences of place and culture on modes of inquiry, teaching, and learning in the Earth system sciences; and how place-based education can contribute to environmental and cultural sustainability, as well as greater equity and diversity in the geoscience community. Semken’s research is largely situated in the American Southwest, where he has worked with Native American and Hispanic/Latino/Chicano communities for more than a quarter-century. He was a faculty member at the tribal college of the Navajo Nation for 15 years before joining Arizona State University. Semken 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. He 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.  

Project Leader, Workshop Leader and Participant, Website Contributor

Project Leader

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.

Website Content Contributions

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 ...

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 ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Multiple temporal scales of landscapes and landforms part of Cutting Edge:Topics: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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Course (1)

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 ...

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:Enhance Your Teaching: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? ...

Conference Presentation (1)

Place-Based and Culturally Valid Geoscience Curriculum and Assessment Development part of Earth Educators Rendezvous 2015:Program:Abstracts
Place-based (PB) methods of teaching geoscience leverage sense of place (meanings and attachments affixed to places) of students and instructors, as they are situated in surrounding environments and landscapes, ...