Friday Session B

Friday 1:30pm-4:00pm Northrop Hall: 340
Teaching Demonstration

Session Chairs

Callan Bentley, Northern Virginia Community College
Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia
1:30pm-1:50pm
The Pangea Puzzle
Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Callan Bentley, Northern Virginia Community College
Mark Uhen, George Mason University

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Students learn how to use the Paleobiology Database (PBDB) to produce maps of fossils on the present day Earth's surface, as well as past continental configurations. They do this by mapping the occurrence of fossil organisms: where a species occurs in space (geographically) and when a species occurs in time (stratigraphically). Students then use these maps to understand the biogeographic distributions of fossil organisms, and how these distributions constitute evidence for past continental plate positions. Fossil distributions examined include Lystrosaurus, Mesosaurus, Glossopteris, Marsupialia, and finally a fossil chosen by the student(s). Students compare distribution patterns of marine and terrestrial organisms. During the exercise, students pause to make predictions about the distributions and how they change over time.
1:50pm-2:10pm
Using the Paleobiology Database to explore tectonic events
Callan Bentley, Northern Virginia Community College
Katherine Ryker, University of South Carolina-Columbia
Ander Sundell, College of Western Idaho

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In this teaching demonstration, we will model a student activity we developed utilizing the Paleobiology Database's (PBDB's) user-friendly "Navigator" interface. The activity has students to explore the tectonic implications of the Great American Biotic Interchange, an event where North American species moved into South America and (to a lesser extent) vice versa. Students use the PBDB Navigator to access information about the time/space distribution of several terrestrial fossil taxa, plot maps of these results, formulate hypotheses about the timing of the build-up of the Isthmus of Panama (and hence the connection between North and South America), and then test those hypotheses using several other sources of online data. The activity has been piloted using our project's research protocols, and refined based on feedback from multiple colleagues using a rubric. It is now available for any educator to utilize.
2:10pm-2:30pm
Project Paleo: Bringing Invertebrate Paleontology to the Classroom
Kathryn Estes-Smargiassi, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Molly Porter, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Austin Hendy, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

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Paleontology is often termed a "gateway science" because of its ability capture children's attention and imaginations in a STEM field at a very young age. We can use the fun of fossils to begin teaching many core scientific concepts very early on in students' educational careers. Unfortunately, invertebrate paleontology is often neglected in the classroom due to a lack of understanding of the subject on the part of many teachers, as well as the limited access that teachers have to real fossils. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County's Project Paleo links real teachers with real fossils and real scientists. Project Paleo kits are available for teachers to borrow, and include guidelines for the activity, content background information sheets, lesson extension idea, laminated fossil identification sheets, tools for sorting, and a bag of unsorted invertebrate fossils. The students, with a target of late elementary through middle school, will work in groups to sort and identify the fossils as best they can and then place their final groupings into provided baggies with labels. The kit is then returned to the museum for final sorting and curating, and the museum's database will record the student's findings in perpetuity.
2:30pm-2:50pm
Creating and Destroying Limestone
Stacey Verardo, George Mason University
Julia Nord, George Mason University

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Students pour 2 cm of limewater into a test tube. Using straws they blow into the limewater making a calcite precipitate (Part 1). After discussion, they repeat the process and the calcite disappears (Part 2). Faculty led discussion is a key component. Part 1. What happened and why? What are you adding to the limewater? Where is the CO2 coming from? Where is the C coming from? What is a precipitate? How are limestone, chalk, and calcite shells formed? Part 2. What are you still adding to the limewater? Why did the calcite dissolve? Connections and Additions. Human, plant life, and photosynthesis at many levels. Most students do not know where or how the C is added to CO2. Relevance to climate change, acid rain and limestone dissolution. How CO2 in the atmosphere affects the ocean and causes ocean acidification. How will this affect shells, corals, crabs? The chemistry, including formulae can be added at many levels, and discussions of pH, acids and bases. Outcome: Students can visualize and articulate a complex sequence of chemical reactions that have a profound effect on the current world environments. Students can extrapolate what they see today into past ecosystems (fossils and sedimentary processes).
2:50pm
Break
3:00pm-3:20pm
Activities that Warm Students Up to Glaciers
LeAnne Teruya, San Jose State University

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Three simple activities can be used to help students understand the internal and external processes that take place when glaciers advance. Students will learn that in addition to gravity pulling glaciers downhill, other processes are concurrently taking place: deformation, melting and refreezing, weathering and erosion. The following hands-on activities, inserted at different intervals during the class lecture, introduce students to these processes. First, students explore how glacial melting and refreezing can be caused by pressure. Students embed a toothpick and a piece of plastic straw into ice by applying pressure to the items, then releasing the pressure to allow the meltwater to refreeze around the items. Next, the students use two dots and a straight line drawn on "glacier putty" to observe the how friction causes different parts of the glacier to move at different velocities. Finally, students simulate glacial plucking using putty and craft beads. At the end of the class session, students will understand that glaciers are not simply large blocks of ice that slide downhill due to gravity. They will know how glaciers move and deform, and understand one way that glaciers remove and transport rocks during advancement.
3:20pm-3:40pm
Slide Rules and Log Scales as a Primer for Reading Graphs
Victor Ricchezza, University of South Florida

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The participants will be given a short primer on the workings of a slide rule. Participants will use 3D-printed logarithmic slide rules made at USF and work in small groups to perform a few calculations ranging from simple multiplication to trigonometry to logarithms. Following the active portion of the demonstration, I will show how students then create their own working slide rules out of log scales, and how we bridge this into reading logarithmic scales on graphs and plots. Ultimately we use this to discuss how modeling functions can be shown to be "linear" on different axis systems once students understand logarithmic scales. Differences between the demo and our course: the demonstrated dry lab activity with the slide rules is significantly longer in the classroom setting, and time constraints do not allow us to ask audience members to make log scales of their own. At the end of the activity, participants/students should be closer to quantitative literacy in one primary factor: when they first look at a plot/graph, the first thing they look at should be the axes. This activity reinforces that concept, and has good success in our course.
3:40pm-4:00pm
Hands-on with spectra to enable students to be good producers and consumers of EDS/SEM data.
Michael Mengason, National Institute of Standards and Technology

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Elemental analysis on scanning electron microscopes (SEM) by energy dispersive spectrometry (EDS) is a widely used analytical technique across the geosciences. A basic understanding of how energy spectra are generated by the interaction of the electron beam and the samples is key to giving students the skills to produce high-quality data. It is equally important to giving students the skills to be critical consumers of the data, capable of understanding limitations and pitfalls of the technique. Intended as a supplement to 'book-learning', this activity uses the free software DTSA-II from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to allow students to produce model energy spectra of elements, compounds, and minerals they specify. A set of spectra recorded from actual samples will also be explored to identify peak overlaps and other common problematic occurrences. By completing the assignment students will have been introduced to concepts in x-ray microanalysis, begun learning the skill of interpreting spectra, and have identified common problems to be aware of when using EDS spectral data.