Boneyard Creek and other Extra Credit Exercises

Eileen Herrstrom
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Author Profile
Initial Publication Date: July 1, 2019


Each of these activities takes place outside of class and requires ~0.5 hour to complete. Students review and expand on lecture topics, complete online exercises, discover campus geology, and work with computer spreadsheets.

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Undergraduate class on introductory physical geology or quantitative reasoning for non-majors

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Must know concepts from lectures and be able to manipulate data in Excel spreadsheets

How the activity is situated in the course

These are homework or extra credit activities that follow lectures on various topics. As such, they are scattered throughout the course.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Individual activity pages list specific goals. In general, the goals are to supplement lecture and lab work and to provide opportunities for students to apply their learning independently.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Various activities involve interpreting graphs, identifying minerals and rocks, and reading topographic maps.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students search the Internet for data and other information and use Microsoft Excel.

Description of the activity/assignment

These brief activities can be assigned as either extra credit or homework and have been used in both ways in different semesters. Typically, only five to six of these assignments are used in each term, leaving some activities to be rotated into later use. The activity topics are earthquake vibrations/sounds, Earth's interior layers, tectonic plate movements, mineral and rock identification, the rock cycle, topographic maps, erupting volcanoes, relative geologic time, and streamflow along Boneyard Creek.

Determining whether students have met the goals

In both the traditional face-to-face and online versions of the course, these activities are assessed based on the answers to the questions.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Michael, A., and D. Ross, Listening to Earthquakes: USGS: Online resource – Accessed 7 June 2019

Kennett, B.L.N., and E.R. Engdahl, 1991, Traveltimes for global earthquake location and phase identification: Geophysical Journal International, v. 105, pp. 429-465

Bolt, B.A., 1991, The Precision of Density Estimation Deep in the Earth: Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, v. 32, p. 367

Tamaki, K., and K. Okino, 1995, Plate Motion Calculator: Online resource – accessed 6 June 2019

Harwood, R., 2011, Mineral Physical Properties and Identification: Online resource – accessed 6 June 2019

King, H.M., 2005, Rocks – Igneous, Metamorphic, and Sedimentary: Online resource – Accessed 21 June 2019

Interactives – Rock Cycle, 2017, Annenberg Foundation: Online resource – accessed 9 June 2019

Kirchner, J.G., and Searight, T.K., 1989, A Road Rally as a Topographic Map Exercise: Journal of Geological Education, v. 37, pp. 7-9.

Volcano World, 2019, Oregon State University: Online resource – accessed 8 June 2019

Pfeiffer, T., 2019, What's Erupting? List & Map of Erupting Volcanoes: Online resource – accessed 8 June 2019

Harwood, R., 2011, Relative Dating #1 and #2: Online resource – accessed 6 June 2019

US Geological Survey Water Data for the Nation: Online resource – Accessed 4 June 2019
Daily Data for Site Number 03337000 on Boneyard Creek, Urbana IL, are used in the activity.

State Climatologist Office for Illinois: Online resource – Accessed 4 June 2019
Data for November 2009-February 2010 are used in the activity.