Teach the Earth > Introductory Courses > Activities > Sediment and Depositional Environments lab

Sediment and Depositional Environments lab

Ann C. H. Hadley
Manchester Community College
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jul 11, 2008


Students will investigate sedimentary materials and depositional environments utilizing microscopes, hand samples, and internet data.

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This lab is part of Introduction to Physical Geology, a course that can be taken by majors or non-majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must have a basic understanding of how to use internet computer sites to obtain data. Students should have participated in a basic discussion of the rock cycle, weathering of rock, and sedimentary depositional environments.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a lab activitiy that is undertaken a few weeks into the course. Students have participated in a basic discussion of the rock cycle, weathering of rock, and sedimentary depositional environments.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Students will have an opportunity to make observations of different types of sand under a microscope. They will make observations of hand samples in the coal suite. They will make observations about sedimentary process and results.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students will formulate hypotheses concerning sediment deposition and sediment formation and rock formation.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students will work with computers on a USGS web site, utilize microscopes and utilize hand samples and a "Sedimentator" settling tube.

Description of the activity/assignment

Students will investigate sediment and depositional environments utilizing several different research tools. They will utilize a "Sedimentator" settling tube to investigate energy influences in a depositional environment. Students will investigate hand samples of a coal suite to connect their observations to an understanding of its depositional environment. They will utilize the a USGS web site to make observations concerning Hurricane Katrina sediment transport and deposition. Students will utilize microscopes to make comparisons of different kinds of beach sand, their sources and ultimately the resultant rock types.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Student lab reports and group discussions should reflect an understanding of sediment depositional environments and sediment sources. Appropriate conclusions should be presented in student reports.

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