Teaching Geoscience with Visualizations

Visualizing the Earth, its processes, and its evolution through time is a fundamental aspect of geoscience. The use of visualizations - diagrams, images, animations, maps, and more - is an essential tool in helping students to visualize the Earth and its processes (e.g., references in the recommended reading list and many others).

How to Use Visualizations in Class

  • What Makes an Effective Visualization: If you are using visualizations in class, these guidelines will help you choose the best options.
  • Ideas for Teaching with Visualizations: This page incorporates essays, powerpoint presentations and topical resources on using visualizations to explain ideas, explore and understand data, powerful emerging tools, and educational research on visualizations.
  • Teaching Activities Using Visualizations: Search our collection of teaching activities that use visualizations.
  • Teaching Activities Using Google Earth: Over 20 examples of Google Earth in geoscience classrooms.

Lessons from Education and Cognitive Science Research

Research sheds light on why teaching with visualizations is effective.

Visualization Collections

  • Browse our collection of Visualizations on Geoscience Topics. The collection may be searched by specific geoscience topic.
  • Other Sites with Extensive Visualization Collections. The following sites maintain large collections of visualizations. The collections span the variety of forms of visualizations including animations, still images, movies, models, and simulations.
  • Browse our collection of Geoscience Datasets with Visualizations. This link will take you to a browseable collection of geoscience datasets that include visualizations, searchable by topic.
  • Share references, resources or teaching materials so that they can be added to the collections.

Creating your own Visualizations

  • Descriptions of Tools you can use to create visualizations
  • Design principles for making effective visualizations


Join the Discussion

This site aggregates resources and results from two workshops on Teaching with Visualizations. The first, Teaching Geoscience with Visualizations: Using Images, Animations, and Models Effectively, was held at Carleton College in Northfield, MN in February, 2004. A follow-on workshop was held at the fall 2004 meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, CA.

Animation in banner courtesy of Don Middleton, NCAR

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