Teach the Earth > Introductory Courses > Activities > Fun with Foam: Introduction to Strike and Dip

Fun with Foam: Introduction to Strike and Dip

Angela Moore
Guilford College
Author Profile

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


This is a hands-on activity designed to help students better visualize and become more familiar with the strike and dip of deformed beds.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



This activity can be used in introductory physical and historical geology courses, and can also be implemented as a fun 'refresher' in a structural geology course.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should be introduced to the concept that rocks can be deformed (tilted and folded), and should have a refresher on the compass directions.

How the activity is situated in the course

This exercise is used as a short group exercise in a classroom lecture setting, prior to the laboratory on basic structural geology.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Understanding and visualizing strike and dip of sedimentary layers

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity


Other skills goals for this activity


Description of the activity/assignment

Before this exercise, student should be briefly introduced to the concept that rocks can be deformed. I will usually show relevant images from the textbook regarding strike, dip, and basic fold geometry. In addition, I spend some time reviewing compass directions, and how to describe the orientation of a line. After the introduction, each student (or pair of students) is given a flexible piece of foam which is treated as an analog for a sedimentary bed. Students are asked to place their foam into the proper orientation, given the strike and dip measurements. Students are encouraged to help one another as the tasks become more complex.

Determining whether students have met the goals

I do not use a formal assessment, but the foam provides a strong visual cue to indicate which students would benefit from additional time at the beginning of the laboratory on structural geology and folds.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials