Fun with foam, demonstrating strike and dip in class
Guilford CollegeAuthor Profile
Colorful foam sheets are used in a classroom or lab setting to introduce students to the concept of strike and dip. It is interactive, and the instructor or TA's can quickly see which students are 'getting' it and which might need a little more individual assistance.
Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications
I use this activity in introductory courses, including our equivalent to Physical Geology, and in Historical Geology. I've also been known to use it in Structural, for students who might need a refresher at the beginning of the course.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
The concepts of strike and dip should have been introduced, and also the basic fold shapes if you plan to include that in the activity.
How the activity is situated in the course
This is a short, fun exercise that is either done in a lecture setting or as the early part of a lab that introduces concepts of basic structural geology (faulting, folding, etc.).
Content/concepts goals for this activity
This activity is designed to help students really understand the concepts of strike and dip. By the end of the activity, students should be able to use the foam to 'model' what a bed would be doing given a basic description (for example, 'a bed has a strike of N45E and is gently dipping to the SE'). Additional concepts that can be introduced include the trend and plunge of a fold axis, or just the recognition of basic fold types.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
This exercise isn't really designed to develop the higher order thinking skills, to be honest, it is more to help cement a basic idea that can then later be used for more in depth interpretation of structural features.
Other skills goals for this activity
This exercise can be done with individuals or with groups; if chosen as a group activity, it can certainly foster supportive interaction among students as they assist one another and participate in both teaching and learning.
Description of the activity/assignment
Colorful foam sheets are used in a classroom or lab setting to help students understand the concept of strike and dip. To prepare for this exercise, students should be introduced to the basic concepts in a short lecture beforehand, and perhaps shown diagrams to give them a general idea of what the terms mean. The instructor will need to identify the N,S,E,W directions in the classroom; it is usually helpful to post sheets with this information and attach it to the walls. The students are then asked to use their sheets of foam to simulate the orientation of beds that are have a specific strike and dip. Once that has been mastered, the exercise can be expanded and students can be asked to demonstrate the trend and plunge of simple folds.
Determining whether students have met the goals
This exercise is interactive and visual, and the instructor or TA's can quickly see which students are 'getting' it and which might need a little more individual assistance based upon how their orient the foam. Care must be taken not to single out students, but in my experience it has been helpful to ask students to assist one another.More information about assessment tools and techniques.