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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Spatial Thinking: Instructional Strategies

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Linear and Planar Features
Students gesture the orientations of linear and planar features. In the first part of the exercise, students can only see one surface of a wooden block, and are asked to speculate about how planar features penetrate through the interior. Later, they uncover the other faces of the block and gesture the actual orientations.

Fault Separation
Students use gestures to explore the relationship between fault slip direction and fault separation by varying the geometry of faulted layers, slip direction, and the perspective from which these are viewed.

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.

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

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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