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Why are feedback loops difficult to teach and learn?
Kim Kastens
Although the feedback loop concept has strong explanatory power, a number of cognitive and practical problems can make it hard to teach and learn. Practical problems include: use of the terms "positive" ...

What do COVID-19, climate change, feuds and explosions have in common?
Kim Kastens & Tim Shipley
This piece places the COVID-19 pandemic into a larger framework as an example of a runaway reinforcing feedback loop, drawing analogies to both Earth and non-Earth systems. This framework can help readers ...

Topics: Systems Thinking

In which I experience the power of the right question
Kim Kastens
The author reflects on why a particular question about the Earth lured her into a deep dive into local geology, and concludes that questions about non-expected phenomena are particularly potent.

Should we be talking with our Earth & Environmental Science students about voting?
Kim Kastens
A recent study has found that undergraduates' rate of voting varies by major, with STEM majors falling at the bottom of the heap. Since so many issues at the intersection of Earth Systems and human systems ...

"What should be the temperature of the ocean?"
Kim Kastens
A students' question while viewing a data visualization can be viewed through several lenses: the need for a norm in interpreting a new data type, the dynamic nature of the ocean, acceptable thresholds for ...

Lessons Learned from Decades of GeoEd Reform
Kim Kastens
Author shares lessons learned from geoscience education reform with math educators embarking on a similar endeavor. Suggestions are:

Put a Little ART in your EARTH Science
David W. Mogk, Dept. Earth Sciences, Montana State University
C.P. Snow famously wrote about "The Two Cultures"[1]—that great divide between the sciences and humanities. Snow argued that the inability of scientists/engineers and scholars of the arts/humanities to ...

Data Visualization as Rorschach Test
Kim Kastens
A single data visualization--a time series graph of global death rate--elicited three wildly different interpretations. This reminds us that (a) data interpreters bring their own priorities and domain expertise to ...

Topics: Data

Further exploration of the boundary between truth and untruth
Kim Kastens
Christopher Columbus is said to have balanced an egg on its end by cracking the shell, to demonstrate how an insight can be obvious once the trick is known. The story is untrue in a literal sense and yet it ...

Be Prepared
David Mogk
× I just finished a three-year term as Department Head. I had high hopes and expectations that I could work for departmental development: curriculum revisions, young faculty professional development, alumni ...

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