Spatial Thinking Workbook > Teaching Activities

Teaching Activities

The activities in this collection are designed to help undergraduate geoscience students develop their spatial visualization skills, and particularly their penetrative thinking skills: the ability to visualize spatial relations inside an object. Collectively, these exercises are the Spatial Thinking Workbook.


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Subject: Geology

Spatial Thinking: Instructional Strategies

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Comparing Phyllosilicate Structures
Students compare the chemistry and structures of biotite, muscovite, and chlorite.

Understanding Crystal Symmetry via Gestures
Students use a small mirror to explore the meaning of mirror symmetry, and then use their hands to gesture mirror planes for a group of familiar objects. They also explore the rotational symmetry of a group of familiar objects, and then use their hands to gesture the rotational axes and rotation. Finally, they use gestures to show mirror and rotational symmetry of wooden crystal models.

Comparing Quartz Polymorphs
Students compare the structures of low-temperature and high-temperature polymorphs of quartz, relating their differences to symmetry and crystal systems.

Understanding Mineral Cleavage via Gestures
Students use gesture to convey information about mineral cleavage and the relationship between crystal structures and cleavage planes.

Gestures for Miller Indices
Students use one hand to gesture crystallographic axes and the other hand to represent planes designated by Miller Indices.

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