Jennifer Wenner


University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Materials Contributed through SERC-hosted Projects

Project Leader on this Project

The Math You Need, When You Need It Math tutorials for students in introductory geosciences part of Math You Need
The Math You Need, When You Need It provides web modules to help students succeed with mathematics in introductory geoscience classes.

Activities (9)

Continental Crust Mass Balance Calculation part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
This problem set is designed for a junior/senior level course and addresses several quantitative skills that are important in geochemistry and petrology. It involves conversions (i.e., cm to m), calculation and application of data to "real-life" problems in geology. It also requires that students use some higher order skills – including making connections to other courses they have taken in geology. I use it in my upper level geochemistry course as a homework assignment but it could also be used in petrology or as an in-class activity. The exercise requires some understanding of rock type, geochemistry and geophysics. The exercise uses geochemical data for average quartz monzonite and diorite from the Mineral Mountains in Utah. The students do mass balance calculations and are asked to relate their calculations to continental crust formation.

Magma Modification in the central Sierra Nevada Batholith part of Cutting Edge:Petrology:Teaching Examples
This exercise is centered around a suite of rocks from the Sierra Nevada batholith. The activities are designed to give petrology students a capstone experience for the igneous portion of the upper-level Petrology course. Students are given thin sections with hand samples, a map and a table of geochemical analyses (in Excel format) and asked to record hand-sample and thin section observations with the idea that these will be used to understand processes that were active during batholith generation.

Ordering Geologic Events and Interpreting Geologic History: The Grand Canyon part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Activities
This activity is designed to have students re-examine rocks they looked at earlier in the semester and use them to interpret some of the geologic history of the Grand Canyon.

VEPP: Will it Erupt? - Predicting Volcanic Events at Kilauea - Preparing the next generation of DISASTRONAUTs part of NAGT:Teaching Resources:Volcano Exploration Project: Pu`u `O`o:Examples
This is an exercise that is in development and will not be fully tested in the classroom until Spring 2011. Please check back regularly for updates and changes. Using data available from the VEPP website, students will examine time-series geophysical data (seismicity, tilt, GPS) to evaluate Kilauea during June, July and August of 2007. Based on plots of the geophysical data, students will develop hypotheses about geologic events that occurred during the time period indicated. Students will test their hypotheses by using online and library resources to find relevant geologic data. Student products include graphs, data descriptions, correlations of geophysical data sets and a final written or oral report. A second optional part of this exercise examines data from 2010 that illustrates smaller scale magmatic events and challenges students to recognize the importance of scale. Students should also recognize the implications of smaller magmatic events on the lives of the residents of Hawaii and the monitoring of Kilauea by HVO staff.

Toilet Paper Analogy for Geologic Time part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
This demonstration involves using a 1000 sheet roll of toilet paper (I recommend Scott tissue) to demonstrate the vast length of time involved in Deep Time (or geologic time). Important events in geologic history (such as the extinction of the dinosaurs, or the Stone Age) are marked on the toilet paper. As the toilet paper is unrolled, from the front of the room to the back and around the room, students begin to get a sense of how little time humanity has been on Earth and how much time is really involved.

Using functions in an introductory geoscience course part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
This is a template and set of exercises designed to help faculty increase the graphical literacy of their students. The template gives general guidelines for teaching students the relationship between functions and their graphical representation. Population growth and atmospheric CO2 increase are two exercises that are included to help teach exponential growth and decay. The template and exercises guide faculty through helping students to make connections between datasets, graphs and functions.

Demonstration of radioactive decay using pennies part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
A demonstration (with full class participation) to illustrate radioactive decay by flipping coins. Shows students visually the concepts of exponential decay, half-life and randomness. Works best in large classes – the more people, the better.

Using Popcorn to Simulate Radioactive Decay part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Popping popcorn in your class is an excellent way to illustrate both the spontaneity and irreversible change associated with radioactive decay. It helps students to understand the unpredictability of decay.

M&M Model for Radioactive Decay part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
A tasty in-class demonstration of radioactive decay using two colors of M&M's. Illustrates the quantitative concepts of probability and exponential decay. This activity is appropriate for small classes (<40 students).


Physical Geology part of Cutting Edge:Introductory Courses:Courses
This course is a large lecture course (140-200 students) with 6-8 2 hour lab sections (24-25 students each) taught by me or another faculty member. Because 75-90% of the students in this course are taking it as a general education course and will never take another science course, it is designed to give them a taste scientific method and thinking. As survey course, it covers a broad swath of geoscience topics from the perspective of plate tectonic theory.

Other Contribution

Physical Geology at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh part of Math You Need:Implementations
Implementor(s): Jennifer Wenner, Christie Demosthenous, Kate Kramer Enrollment: 140-180 Challenges to using math in geoscience University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is a four-year comprehensive university located in NE ...

Events and Communities

Quantitative Skills 2004 Participants

Infusing Quantitative Literacy into Introductory Geoscience Courses Workshop Participants: PI

Introductory Courses 2008 Participants

NSF Projects Supporting QL Education Participants: Leader

Using on-line volcano monitoring data in college and university courses: The Volcano Exploration Project, Pu`u `O`o Participants

Teaching Petrology Participants

Quantitative Skills 2002 Participants

Strategic Persuasion 08 Participants

Mineralogy, Petrology, Geochemistry Workshop Participants 2011

Quantitative Skills 2005 Participants: Leader