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Print and Online References

This is a collection of print and online references about spatial thinking and learning.

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Spatial Thinking Workbook
This project is developing and testing teaching materials to improve the spatial thinking skills of geoscience undergraduates, using strategies supported by cognitive science and geoscience education research.

Spatial Thinking Journal Club
January - May, 2012 Three-dimensional view of the global wind circulation patterns due to unequal heating at the equator and the poles. Image from NASA's Remote Sensing Tutorial: The Water Planet - ...

Spatial Thinking in the Geosciences
Spatial thinking is fundamental in the geosciences. From visualizing atmospheric, ocean, or mantle circulation patterns to navigating unfamiliar landscapes to constructing a cross-section through deformed rocks, ...

Understanding Polyhedral Diagrams
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Students identify individual polyhedra in a variety of diagrams and answer questions about shared oxygens in diagrams of common silicate structures.

Understanding Crystal Symmetry via Gestures
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Students use a small mirror to explore the meaning of mirror symmetry, and then use their hands to gesture mirror planes for a group of familiar objects. They also explore the rotational symmetry of a group of familiar objects, and then use their hands to gesture the rotational axes and rotation. Finally, they use gestures to show mirror and rotational symmetry of wooden crystal models.

Understanding Mineral Cleavage via Gestures
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Students use gesture to convey information about mineral cleavage and the relationship between crystal structures and cleavage planes.

Deciphering Mineral Structure Diagrams
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Students compare mineral structures shown in ball-and-stick, space filling, and polyhedral diagrams.

Gestures for Silicate Structures
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Students use gestures to show the structures of single and double chain silicate minerals, paying attention to where silica tetrahedra share oxygen ions and the relative positions of the tetrahedra.

Comparing Quartz Polymorphs
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Students compare the structures of low-temperature and high-temperature polymorphs of quartz, relating their differences to symmetry and crystal systems.

Gestures for Miller Indices
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Students use one hand to gesture crystallographic axes and the other hand to represent planes designated by Miller Indices.

Introduction to 3D Sketching
Tom Hickson, University of St. Thomas (MN)
This activity provides an introduction to 3D sketching. Students sketch a cube, boxes, and cylinders. They watch a video about how to sketch boxes and cylinders, and then sketch a few more.

Sketching Block Diagrams
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Students watch a video of the instructor sketching two geologic block diagrams (of flat stratigraphy and of an upright anticline), then practice sketching additional geologic block diagrams.

Sketching 3D Ripples and Dunes
Tom Hickson, University of St. Thomas (MN)
Students watch a video of the instructor sketching 3D ripples, then practice sketching 3D bedforms, both as seen by the viewer and as annotated 3D block diagrams.mpty

Slicing Cylinders
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Students identify and draw slices through cylinders and partial cylinders, and use gestures to visualize slicing planes. This practice with visualizing slices through idealized geometric shapes is preparation for visualizing slices through geological features.

Slicing Channels
Tom Hickson, University of St. Thomas (MN)
Students examine 3D channel-shaped objects and 2D slices through those objects. The purpose is to get them thinking about how the 3D geometry of a channel is reduced to a random 2D slice through the channel in a typical outcrop, so that they can recognize channel deposits.

Slicing Fruit
Tom Hickson, University of St. Thomas (MN)
Students identify and draw slices through fruit, as practice for drawing slices through more complex features.

Slicing Rocks
Tom Hickson, University of St. Thomas (MN)
Students examine images of a bowl of rocks, then several rock piles, then outcrops of conglomerate and breccia. They sketch slices through the bowl of rocks, match photos of rock piles to sketches of slices through those piles, and then apply what they've learned to describe the conglomerate and breccia.

Slicing Fossils
Tom Hickson, University of St. Thomas (MN)
Students examine images of brachiopods, mollusks, and coquinas. They identify, visualize, and sketch slices through a variety of shelly organisms, then apply what they've learned to identify fossils in several samples of coquina.

Linear and Planar Features
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Students gesture the orientations of linear and planar features. In the first part of the exercise, students can only see one surface of a wooden block, and are asked to speculate about how planar features penetrate through the interior. Later, they uncover the other faces of the block and gesture the actual orientations.

Contractional Strain
Carol Ormand, Carleton College
Students use gesture to describe the bulk deformation and local deformation apparent in images of a contractional analog experiment. Students then calculate bulk shortening and bulk thickening for the experiment and describe the structures accommodating that strain.

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