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Geologic Time Activities


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Relative Geologic Time and the Geologic Time Scale
Bret Bennington, Hofstra University
Group simulation of the development of the geologic time scale illustrating concepts of correlation and relative time. Extremely effective for teaching the significance of the geologic time scale.

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Teaching geologic time and rates of landscape evolution with dice
Kate Ruhl, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Landscape evolution provides a convenient framework for understanding geologic time and rates because students can observe how processes like erosion and deposition shape their surroundings. In this example, students build 3-D sandbox models based on topographic maps and design and stage a "virtual adventure race." Sandbox landscapes are used to illustrate erosional processes,while local examples are used to discuss landscapes as transient or steady over different time- and length scales. Dice experiments illustrate radioactive decay and the shape of the age equation curve, and 14C dating, geochronology and thermochronology are introduced as "stopwatches" that start when a plant dies, a crystal forms, or a rock nears the surface and cools to a certain temperature. The sandbox model and thermochronometer "stopwatches" are combined to measure erosion rates and rates of landscape change. Ultimately, model rates (cm/hour) calculated from stopwatch times on the order of seconds can be related to geologic rates (km/My) calculated from real million-year-old samples.

Lifelines and "Earth lines"
LeeAnn Srogi, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
This activity can be used as a first lab for an introductory-level geoscience course. It is a cooperative ice-breaker gets students to know one another and opens discussion for geologic time and earth history.

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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My Geologic Address: Locating Oneself in Geologic Time and Process
Kip Ault, Lewis and Clark College
Students locate their homes on local, regional, and global scale geologic maps. They build up an "address" describing their location in geological terms based on the features of the maps, from local bedrock to regional and global tectonic features.

Hierarchical Alignment of Timelines
ilyse resnick, Temple University
In the hierarchical alignment activity students progressively and hierarchically align scale information to a spatial linear representation. The progressive alignment of scales may alleviate the conceptual ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Depositional Environments and Geologic History Labs
Maria Waller, Wellesley College; Kathy Gilbert, Wellesley College
This is a pair of labs that incrementally prepare students to interpret the geologic history of a rock sequence. The first lab introduces students to depositional environments and fossils. The second lab presents a ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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M & M Decay
Rebecca Teed, Wright State University-Main Campus
This is a simulation of radioactive decay which illustrates what a half-life is and explains some of the challenges involved with radiometric dating. Pennies or other cheap coins can be substituted for M&Ms if ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
Learn more about this review process.

Time Scales of Climate Change
Erika Grundstrom, Vanderbilt University; Cara Thompson, Santa Monica College; maya elrick, University of New Mexico-Main Campus
This activity introduces students to the fact that climate change occurs at timescales of 1 year to 108 years and there are various drivers to explain these changes. It addresses how scientists detect these scales ...

Relative Dating of Geologic Materials
Steve Mattox, Grand Valley State University
This lessons allows students to constuct the basic principals used to understand relative geologic time and the skills used to construct the geologic time scale.

Relative Age Correlation
Gwen Daley, Winthrop University
Students learn to apply basic correlation principles to geologic cross-sections.

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