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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Contractional Strain
Students use gesture to describe the bulk deformation and local deformation apparent in images of a contractional analog experiment. Students then calculate bulk shortening and bulk thickening for the experiment and describe the structures accommodating that strain.

Deformation Mechanisms and Microstructures
In this exercise, students match microstructures to the deformation mechanisms by which they form; compare pairs of photomicrographs chosen to highlight key differences between some common microstructures; and complete a self-quiz in which they identify microstructures and infer deformation mechanisms from photomicrographs.

Folds and Cleavage
In this exercise, students explore the geometric relationship between bedding/cleavage intersections and fold axes for axial planar, fanning, and transecting cleavage.

Restraining Bends and Releasing Bends
In this exercise, students use gestures to re-create the motion of fault blocks adjacent to restraining bends and releasing bends. They then answer a few questions about a map view of the San Andreas Fault and two of its bends.

Slices Through 3D Objects
In this exercise, students identify and draw slices through an ice cream cone, a pyramid, and a beverage six-pack.

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