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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Introduction to 3D Sketching
This activity provides an introduction to 3D sketching. Students sketch a cube, boxes, and cylinders. They watch a video about how to sketch boxes and cylinders, and then sketch a few more.

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

Slicing Cylinders
Students identify and draw slices through cylinders and partial cylinders, and use gestures to visualize slicing planes. This practice with visualizing slices through idealized geometric shapes is preparation for visualizing slices through geological features.

Slicing Fruit
Students identify and draw slices through fruit, as practice for drawing slices through more complex features.

Using Gesture to Support Spatial Thinking
This activity highlights the value of gesture in communicating spatial information. It consists of two short exercises. In the first, students are asked to pair up and describe to their partner how to navigate from one place to another in their home town. In the second, a volunteer is asked to sit on his or her hands and describe how to tie a bow with a piece of ribbon. In the first exercise, students spontaneously gesture; in the second, the volunteer will very much want to gesture and may be unable to complete the task under the restriction given (sitting on hands).

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