Workshop Overview

An advantage of teaching undergraduate geoscience courses is the large number of critical Earth issues that are of public important and interest, such as hydrofracking; seismic hazards; climate change; droughts and floods; glacier melting and sea level rise; severe weather events such as tornadoes and hurricanes; human impacts on land, water, and air; volcanic activity. One of the best ways for students to understand these issues is through the analysis and interpretation of actual data. Fortunately, there are now many organizations that not only monitor many geophysical and geochemical properties of the earth but provide the data in user-friendly ways. Whether it is through maps, images, animations, or raw data, these data can be mined and interpreted by undergraduates in ways that allow them to develop an understanding of both the relevant critical Earth issues and of issues related to the reliability, errors, and significance associated with scientific conclusions and assertions.

During May, 2015, there will be four 2-hour sessions (Wednesday, 12-2 pm Central Time) of presentations by experts from a variety of organizations (IRIS, NASA, NOAA, UNAVCO, etc.) that manage large data sets of Earth observations. These will be in areas such as digital topography; seismic and volcanic activity and data; weather and climate data for land, air, and ocean; EPA databases on toxic releases; NASA GRACE data on soil moisture; global atmospheric greenhouse gases; hydrologic fracturing well data; socio-economic parameters; and other data sets.

Over the course of the month, participants will begin formulating new teaching materials making use of resources these experts share with the group. During the two weeks between the May sessions and the June sessions, participants will work individually or in small groups to flesh out and finish off these new teaching activities.

Finally, in June, there will be two 2-hour sessions where participants will share their finished teaching activities with the rest of the workshop, with the benefit of being able to receive constructive comments. At the end of the workshop all of the activities will be added to the Cutting Edge online collection of classroom activities.

Workshop Goals

  • Create a diverse collection of links to current geoscience online digital datasets that span a range of geosciences, with an emphasis on geoscience topics of particular current societal interest and relevance;
  • Demonstrate cutting edge advances in using digital online geoscience datasets and provide participants with understandings in how they are generated, archived, and interpreted;
  • Develop effective teaching practices using online digital datasets, including the development of teaching activities and demonstrations that are appropriate for different instructional levels and using current results of learning science that inform learning through the use of the interpretation and analysis of online datasets;
  • Demonstrate to participants the use of a variety of software programs codes that can interpret, analyze, and map the digital datasets discussed within the workshop.


The virtual workshop will consist of six 2-hour sessions in May and June, 2015. The sessions will be on Wednesdays from 12-2PM Central Time (10AM-12PM Pacific, 11AM-1PM Mountain, 1PM-3PM Eastern). There will be four session in May (6, 13, 20, 27) and two in June (17, 24).


What are the participants expected to do:

  • Before the workshop, participants will be asked to submit the beginnings of an idea for using online geoscience data in a classroom activity. This can be something you've tried and want to develop further or something completely new.
  • During the workshop, participants are expected to participate in all workshop sessions.
  • All workshop participants are responsible for completing at least one teaching activity using online data sets, which will become part of the Cutting Edge online collection of classroom activities at the end of the workshop.


The registration fee for this virtual workshop is $200 ($150 for NAGT Members) and will be collected at the time of registration.


Interested participants should complete the Registration Form and plan to be present for all six sessions of the workshop.

For More Information

If you have questions about participation in this workshop, please contact Michael Wysession or John McDaris.