GETSI Teaching Materials
Utilizing online resources
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The GETSI teaching materials feature geodetic data and quantitative skills applied to societally important issues (climate change, natural hazards, and water resources). They are designed to maximize student engagement and learning through analysis of real data and clear connections to critical societal challenges. The materials are created through a rigorous development and testing process, spearheaded by the InTeGrate Project
, to ensure that they meet high standards for student-centered learning outcome achievement, instructional strategies, resource content, and assessment effectiveness. Modules are coauthored by two instructors and pilot-tested by a third instructor so that the materials are broadly usable in a range of different institutions and courses. Published modules have completed the development, testing, and revision process.
Each GETSI learning module is comprised of four to six "units" and takes about two weeks of class time when done in its entirety. For instructors with less time available, guidance is provided on how a subset of units can be selected instead. All modules include "Instructor Stories" that showcase how the materials can be used in different educational settings (example Instructor Stories). A community input forum is available for each module to facilitate exchange of ideas between materials adopters. Modules are available for both introductory and majors-level undergraduate courses.
The Guiding Principles that all modules must satisfy are:
- Address one or more geodesy-related grand challenges facing society (e.g., climate change, managing water resources, and mitigating hazards);
- Make use of authentic and credible geodesy data to learn central concepts in the context of geoscience methods of inquiry;
- Improve student understanding of the nature and methods of geoscience and developing geoscientific habits of mind;
- Develop student ability to address interdisciplinary problems and apply geoscience learning to social issues;
- Increase student capacity to apply quantitative skills to geoscience learning.
Using GETSI Modules for Your Course About the Project
Eyes on the Hydrosphere: Tracking Water Resources
Jonathan Harvey (Fort Lewis College)
Becca Walker (Mt. San Antonio College)
This module introduces students to the basics of the hydrologic cycle but in a way that engages them with both societal challenges related to water and methods for measuring the water system. The data used in the module includes both traditional (ex. stream gages) and geodetic methods (ex. gravity satellites). Students also use real data to identify trends and extremes in precipitation and water storage. It is intended to require ~2-3 weeks of class to use in its entirety. It includes individual and group work, reading, reflection, and working with data on the computer. In the final exercise, students are able to investigate water resources a region of interest to them.
Ice Mass and Sea Level Changes
Becca Walker (Mt. San Antonio College)
Leigh Stearns (University of Kansas)
In this two- to three-week module, students interpret geodetic data from Greenland to assess spatial patterns and magnitudes of ice mass change and consider mechanisms and timescales for ice mass loss. They also investigate the relationship between ice mass change and global and regional sea level, with an emphasis on the ongoing and future implications of sea level change on civilization. Materials for student reading and preparation exercises, in-class discussions, lab exercises, small group activities, gallery walks, and wall walks are provided, as well as teaching tips and suggestions for modifications for a variety of class formats.
Measuring the Earth with GPS: Plate Motion and Changing Ice-Water
Karen M. Kortz (Community College of Rhode Island)
Jessica J. Smay (San Jose City College)
Although GPS's first widespread use by geoscientists was to track plate motions, geoscientists have found that GPS can also be used to measure local movement due to changes in the amount of water, snow, and ice. This module guides students to read GPS graphs as scientists do, and use their interpretations of that data to support recommendations that address societal issues related to earthquakes, water resources, and glacier melting. Its flexible use, as in-class group work, homework, and lab activities, provide approximately two weeks of instruction that can be used in sequence, scattered throughout the semester, or used as individual, stand-alone pieces.
Monitoring Volcanoes and Communicating Risks
Kaatje Kraft (Whatcom Community College)
Rachel Teasdale (California State University-Chico)
Volcanoes garner fascination and fear with students and the general population. In this module, students will examine real data, geodetic and other ways of monitoring for three different styles of volcanoes at Hawai'i, Mount St. Helens and Yellowstone in order to better forecast for volcanic eruptions and assess risks for surrounding communities based on different volcanic properties. This also includes students examining data from all stages of USGS alert levels from Normal to Warning. The impact of volcanic activity on surrounding communities is also considered along with ways that societal variables play a role in assessing risk for a given region.
Surface Process Hazards: Living with Landslides
Becca Walker (Mt. San Antonio College)
Sarah Hall (College of the Atlantic)
Worldwide mass wasting causes hundreds if not thousands of deaths per year and billions of dollars in damages. Many of these losses would be preventable if societies prioritized landslide mitigation. In this 2-3 week module, students use a variety of geodetic and other data to analyze the natural and human characteristics of landscapes that contribute to mass wasting hazards. Most of the geodetic data sets are high resolution topography from Lidar and radar, but some InSAR data are also included. Students consider the environmental and societal impacts of mass wasting and landslides as well as the physical factors behind mass movements. Materials for student reading and preparation exercises, in-class discussions, lab exercises, small group activities, gallery walks, and a final project are provided, as well as teaching tips and suggestions for modifications for a variety of class formats. Case study sites include Peru, Italy, and a variety of North American sites from Alaska to Utah to New York.
GPS, Strain, and Earthquakes
Vince Cronin (Baylor University)
Phillip Resor (Wesleyan University)
Understanding how the Earth's crust deforms is crucial in a variety of geoscience disciplines, including structural geology, tectonics, and hazards assessment (earthquake, volcano, landslide). With the installation of numerous high precision Global Positioning System (GPS) stations, our ability to measure this deformation (strain) has increased dramatically, but GPS data are still only rarely included in undergraduate courses, even for geoscience majors. In this module students analyze GPS velocity data from triangles of adjacent GPS stations to determine the local strain. Students learn about strain, strain ellipses, GPS, and how to tie these to regional geology and ongoing societal hazards. A case study from the 2014 South Napa earthquake helps students make connections between interseismic strain and earthquake displacements.
Imaging Active Tectonics with InSAR and LiDAR data
Bruce Douglas (Indiana University)
Gareth Funning (University of California Riverside)
This module focuses on the integration of new and emerging geodetic data sets that have revolutionized our ability to understand the processes and fault parameters that control the particular characteristics of a given earthquake. As such, the units provide insight into the fundamentals of fault behavior and the geological record of this behavior as manifest in the geomorphology of the land surface (tectonic geomorphology). Through analysis of this tectonic landscape, students will develop an appreciation that this subject area requires 4-D thinking that is spatial, and temporal considerations as repeated events on a single fault are recorded in the evolution of the surface topography. Additionally, earthquakes have a direct impact on humans through the potential disruption of societal support infrastructure, and the magnitude and location of this disruption can be determined. The module units can be used individually or integrated into traditional laboratory exercises on faults and fault properties and geometries as well as strain analysis that records ongoing deformation. Finally, the module exposes students to a number of digital tools already common at the professional level, including those used to perform modeling of an earthquake.
Measuring Water Resources with GPS, Gravity, and Traditional Methods
Bruce Douglas (Indiana University)
Eric Small (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Measuring water resources such as groundwater and snowpack is challenging, but the advent of satellite gravity measurements and hydrologic GPS applications can augment traditional methods. This module gives students the unique opportunity to learn these newer methods alongside more traditional ones of groundwater wells and SNOTEL stations. They determine the pros/cons, uncertainty, and spatial scales of different methods. Droughts in the High Plains Aquifer and California are used as case studies. In the summative assessment, students pull together what they have learned and write a report with recommendations for policy makers.
Modeling Flood Hazards
James McNamara (Boise State University)
Venkatesh Merwade (Purdue University)
Flooding is an essential component of natural riverine ecosystems, yet is one of the most damaging and frequent natural hazards throughout the world. In this module, five units are provided that introduce students to 1) the physical concepts of flooding and its impact on natural environment and humans, 2) methods to estimate flood frequency, 3) using LIDAR to compute hydraulic properties of streams, 4) hydraulic modeling tools to map flood-prone areas for different return periods. A fifth unit guides students towards translating these probabilities and flow rates to flood risk in a culminating assignment. This module is intended for upper level geosciences and engineering students.
Planning for Failure: Landslide Analysis for a Safer Society
Stephen Hughes (University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez)
Bobak Karimi (Wilkes University)
In this module students learn empirical methods of mass movement (landslide) hazard mapping and how to tie that making smarter societal choices. Students explore landslide detection from digital topographic data, the distributive pattern of landslides in a region, and how predictive models (susceptibility maps) are developed and analyzed. This culminates in generating of a risk analysis report and management plan. Materials for student reading and preparation exercises, in-class discussions, lab exercises, group activities, and jigsaw experience are all provided, including teaching tips and suggestions for modifications for a variety of classes.
Understanding Our Changing Climate: Data Behind Melting Ice and Changing Sea Level
Bruce Douglas (Indiana University)
Susan Kaspari (Central Washington University)
Climate change is a defining challenge of the current age, and sea-level rise is one of the greatest effects. This module helps students to learn about primary stakeholders in sea-level change and explore a wide variety of climate-related data. The module opens with a stakeholder analysis for residents of a small island nation (Maldives), a coastal developing nation (Bangladesh), and a major coastal urban area (southern California). Students then gain considerable spreadsheet analysis skills through analyzing sea surface temperature, sea-level altimetry, GRACE, InSAR, and GPS data to better understand the factors influencing sea level, including thermal expansion, ice mass loss, and changes in land water storage. Students also consider how much more sea levels will rise this century. The final project is a report to a relevant stakeholder group that synthesizes the current knowledge.
Analyzing High Resolution Topography with TLS and SfM
Bruce Douglas (Indiana University-Bloomington)
Kate Shervais & Chris Crosby (UNAVCO)
And other contributors
GETSI Field Collection: Geodetic imaging technologies have emerged as critical tools for a range of earth science research applications from hazard assessment to change detection to stratigraphic sequence analysis. In this module students learn to conduct terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) and/or Structure from Motion (SfM) surveys to address real field research questions of importance to society. Both geodetic methods generate high resolution topographic data and have widespread research applications in geodesy, geomorphology, structural geology, and more. The module can be implemented in four- to five-day field course or as several weeks of a semester course.
High Precision Positioning with Static and Kinematic GPS/GNSS
Benjamin Crosby and Ian Lauer (Idaho State University)
GETSI Field Collection: In this module, students will learn the fundamentals of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS, a more universal term than GPS) and how to apply these techniques beyond answering, "Where am I?" This module teaches how high-precision positioning enables geoscientists to track changes in the surface of the earth that would otherwise be imperceptible. Through brief classroom lectures, demonstrations, and field exercises, students learn both kinematic and static positioning techniques. This module is field-focused, minimizing lectures and computer work and maximizing student time spent designing and implementing surveys as well as analyzing the new data. Most units require half to a full day to execute, although some waiting time may be required for post-processing satellite data. Prepared data sets are available for courses unable to collect data directly. Instructors can request support for some types of technical assistance from UNAVCO, which runs NSF's Geodetic Facility.
Prepared and Existing Data Sets from Field Geodesy
GETSI Field Collection: This page provides a list of prepared datasets for high-resolution topography (SfM and Lidar), high precision positioning (GPS/GNSS), pre-existing survey sites for GPS/GNSS, and software tutorials for processing field geodesy data, including SfM, TLS, and Point Cloud Processing.
Find more teaching resources that feature geoscience learning in the context of societal challenges on the InTeGrate site »
Find other geodesy teaching resources on NAGT's Teaching Geodesy site »