Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
University of Washington Tacoma
Materials Contributed through SERC-hosted Projects
Laboratory Activity: The Sun and Climate part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
In this physical geography lab, students examine the relationship between solar altitude, solar declination, and temperature regimes. The students begin by relating solar altitude to something that they have had practice observing (shadows). They then use a sextant to measure the sun's altitude more precisely. Students also make decisions about what other data and metadata to record in their field notes in order to determine how solar altitude is related to temperature. After comparing their measurements to the predicted solar altitude for San Diego, the students calculate solar altitudes for other locations on the globe. As a follow-up exercise, students compare their solar altitude graphs with temperature data, and qualitatively predict the temperature regime in the arctic based on solar altitude.
Using Google Earth Layers to Understand Local Geomorphology part of Curriculum for the Bioregion:Activities
Using observations of the topography of their local county and prerequisite knowledge of geomorphology and geology, students develop hypotheses about surface water flow patterns and groundwater flooding patterns. Students must come into this exercise with some prerequisite skills/knowledge: glacial geomorphology of the Puget Lowland; using Google Earth; basic hydrology and hydrogeology. They use a case study of shallow groundwater flooding in Pierce County, Washington and imagery in Google Earth (via KMZ files) to develop their hypotheses. Hypotheses can be partially tested by viewing further imagery in Google Earth of actual surface hydrology. Students finish by 1) reflecting on how local geomorphic features, and the hydrologic patterns caused by them, have impacted development in the area; 2) reflecting on how they have personally interacted with local geomorphic or hydrologic features; 3) developing strategies for collecting field data to establish actual hydrologic patterns and shallow ground water flooding patterns. Examples of strategies may include determining the pattern of basement flooding in residences, or distribution of problem public properties such as chronically flooded parks. Through this exercise students develop a stronger sense of place with respect to how local geomorphology impacts their daily lives.
Geography 101 / 101L part of Quantitative Skills:Courses
(From catalog description) This course examines the major world patterns of the physical environment. The course covers the fundamental information and processes dealing with the earth's landforms, atmosphere, natural vegetation, water, and soils, along with the appropriate use of maps and charts. (Instructor's note) The course, as I teach it, emphasizes being able to "read" landscapes, and to interpret the natural processes and cycles that produce them. The lab (from which I submitted an exercise) offers hands-on training in some of the basic techniques used to study physical features, patterns, and landscapes.