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

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Primary Structures and Rotation
Students gesture the orientations of cross-bedded sandstones, and in particular the relationship between a single cross bed and the bed sets. They do this for photos of undeformed and deformed cross-bedding.

Slicing Rocks
Students examine images of a bowl of rocks, then several rock piles, then outcrops of conglomerate and breccia. They sketch slices through the bowl of rocks, match photos of rock piles to sketches of slices through those piles, and then apply what they've learned to describe the conglomerate and breccia.

Slicing Channels
Students examine 3D channel-shaped objects and 2D slices through those objects. The purpose is to get them thinking about how the 3D geometry of a channel is reduced to a random 2D slice through the channel in a typical outcrop, so that they can recognize channel deposits.

Slicing Fossils
Students examine images of brachiopods, mollusks, and coquinas. They identify, visualize, and sketch slices through a variety of shelly organisms, then apply what they've learned to identify fossils in several samples of coquina.

Sketching 3D Ripples and Dunes
Students watch a video of the instructor sketching 3D ripples, then practice sketching 3D bedforms, both as seen by the viewer and as annotated 3D block diagrams.

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