Initial Publication Date: January 28, 2021

Mini short course: Teaching about Measuring the Earth with GPS: Plate Motion and Changing Ice-Water

Tuesday February 9, 2021

12-2 pm PT | 1-3 pm MT | 2-4 pm CT | 3-5 pm ET | 8-10 pm UTC

Capacity reached. Registration closed.

This course is part of the GETSI Virtual Mini Short Course Series.


Karen M. Kortz (Community College of Rhode Island)
Beth Pratt-Sitaula (UNAVCO)

Mini-course Description

This mini-course will give instructors a chance to learn about the Measuring the Earth with GPS: Plate Motion and Changing Ice-Water intro-level GETSI module and ideas for teaching virtually and in-person. It will include interactive opportunities for instructors to actually work through parts of student exercises, discuss ideas with peers, and work on implementation planning. A great opportunity to learn different ways GPS can be used to better understand a variety of earth processes. $50 stipend* for completion of the course and short implementation plan. All module units are online-ready or online-adaptable.

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. An excellent way for students to gain quantitative skills through repeat reading and interpreting of time series graphs

Mini-course elements

  • Watch ~7 minute video (MP4 Video 10.4MB Oct20 20) prior to the first mini-course you attend.
  • Participate in the full 2-hour session.
    (If you are unable to attend the mini-course at its scheduled time, we recommend watching the webinar related to teaching the same module: Using GPS Data to Teach about the Earth in Introductory Undergraduate Courses.)
  • Complete an Implementation Planning Form by the end of Sunday following the mini-course (expected time ~20-30 minutes; you will have some time near the end of the 2-hour session but may need to take a bit of additional time to complete your plan and feedback)
  • $50 stipend* for participants who complete the Implementation Planning Form by the deadline (Sunday February 14) . Must be US citizen or permanent resident to receive a stipend; however, others are welcome to participate without compensation.


The mini-courses are intended for undergraduate instructors: college and university faculty (including adjunct), post-docs expecting to teach soon, and graduate students with teaching or TAing responsibilities. Secondary K-12 teachers are also welcome; the introductory level modules have been successfully adapted to K-12. You may attend multiple mini-courses and receive the $50 stipend for each. Maximum of 50 registrants per mini-course so please only sign up if you intend to attend.

If you attended the GETSI short course during Earth Educator's Rendezvous in 2019 or 2020, you have already been introduced to this module. However the focus this time will be Unit 2 (plate tectonics) instead of Units 3 (ice) and Unit 4 (groundwater).


Participants will:

  • Learn about geodetic methods related to measuring earth processes with GPS
  • Access online teaching resources presented in the short course
  • Practice using teaching resources
  • Start implementation plan for use of teaching resources

Files for the course

All files are available in the Measuring the Earth with GPS: Plate Motion and Changing Ice-Water module. However, we have also included the specific file that we are using during the course here for simplicity.


Beth Pratt-Sitaula - prattsitaula AT

*Must be US citizen or permanent resident to receive a stipend; however others are welcome to participate without compensation.
You may attend multiple mini-courses. Stipends will be compiled and sent out after the end of the term during which the mini-course was held.

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