Teach the Earth > Service Learning > Example Service Learning Projects > The Geoscape of Bozeman, Montana

The Geoscape of Bozeman, Montana

William Locke
Montana State University
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: Feb 6, 2010


This project was intended to build familiarity with the local geologic environment through a poster session leading to a single poster following the Canadian "Geoscape" model.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



Environmental Geology is an introductory Core Curriculum course, capped at an enrollment of 60, carrying both Diversity and Science credit thus taken by business, engineering, education, (only 10% science) majors with 17-38% from frosh to seniors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

No specific skills were required. Students are asked to read the book chapter (in Montgomery or Keller) that bears most closely on their selected subproject to begin to assemble data early. By the time the project is due they will have covered it in class and for testing.

How the activity is situated in the course

It is a stand-alone exercise undertaken by about 1/2 the class. [I can't recall if it was for extra credit of substituting for a test...]


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Research into state-of-the-art knowledge of geologic materials and processes in a specific region; compilation and display of materials, citation of sources.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Prioritization of information and compilation in a form that will educate the ignorant and the semi-aware.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students worked in groups of three to five to refine the scope of their problem, collect data, organize and display it persuasively, and generate a digital contribution.

Description of the activity/assignment

This project involved students in in-depth research, thus understanding, of the geological setting of Bozeman. Teams defined the scope of their investigations (with faculty oversight) and delegated tasks to build a knowledge base. This understanding lead to the outreach component – a poster session to present this knowledge to the campus and broader community. The poster contents were submitted in a digital form as well, with the long-term goal the compilation of a printed poster (suitable for the Chamber of Commerce, for example, to distribute) analogous to those produced for the Geoscape Canada project.

As a hook, I would plan to do a brief pretest on the region involving WHAT students know about the region beforehand and WHY they might need to know. Sample questions: Content: How deep would one have to dig or drill to find groundwater under downtown Bozeman Under the airport?? Significance: Which of the following processes/hazards are made worse by groundwater close to the surface? Earthquakes, Landslides... An advantage to such a pretest would be an end-of-semester reflection exercise including the same test as a post-test.

Determining whether students have met the goals

I used this assessment form (Microsoft Word 64kB Feb9 10) to assess the products (posters and digital submitions) for quality and presentation and the students assessed themselves and their teammates. I also had a form available for public comment. Public assessment form (Microsoft Word 72kB Feb9 10)

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs