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This page first made public: Oct 16, 2014
Strengths of the Module
Incorporates systems thinking inherent to the study of the rock cycle. It expands beyond the geosphere to include parts of the hydrosphere and atmosphere and how they are affected by mining.
Uses real-life examples of issues related to resource management and extraction for collaborative problem solving. These problems incorporate ideas from economics, social and environmental justice, and the geosciences.Content is delivered using a variety of student-centered activities, including group discussions, concept mapping, jigsaws, and cooperative learning.
Several student activities are hands-on, developing skills including analysis of actual geoscience data, model-building, and hypothesis formation and testing.
The module is extremely flexible, allowing for reorganization of units and even picking and choosing only select activities and/or units.
A great fit for courses in:
- economic geology
- environmental science
- environmental geology
- introductory geology
- geological hazards
- global change
This module is appropriate for introductory-level science and social science courses. The module is designed to stand alone and can be easily adapted to many class sizes and formats (large- or small-enrollment classes, online/distance-learning courses, and interdisciplinary courses).
Supported NSF Earth Science Literacy Principles:
- Big Idea 1. Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet.
- 1.1. Earth scientists find solutions to society's needs.
- 1.2. Earth scientists use a large variety of scientific principles to understand how our planet works.
- 1.3. Earth science investigations take many different forms.
- 1.4. Earth scientists must use indirect methods to examine and understand the structure, composition, and dynamics of Earth's interior.
- 1.5. Earth scientists use their understanding of the past to forecast Earth's future.
- 1.6. Earth scientists construct models of Earth and its processes that best explain the available geological evidence.
- 1.7. Technological advances, breakthroughs in interpretation, and new observations continuously refine our understanding of Earth.
- Big Idea 3. Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life.
- 3.7. Changes in part of one system can cause new changes to that system or to other systems, often in surprising and complex ways.
- Big Idea 4. Earth is continuously changing.
- 4.1. Earth's geosphere changes through geological, hydrological, physical, chemical, and biological processes that are explained by universal laws.
- 4.5. Many active geologic processes occur at plate boundaries.
- 4.6. Earth materials take many different forms as they cycle through the geosphere.
- 4.8. Weathered and unstable rock materials erode from some parts of Earth's surface and are deposited in others.
- Big Idea 7. Humans depend on Earth for resources.
- 7.1. Earth is our home; its resources mold civilizations, drive human exploration, and inspire human endeavors that include art, literature, and science.
- 7.3. Natural resources are limited.
- 7.4. Resources are distributed unevenly around the planet.
- 7.6. Soil, rocks, and minerals provide essential metals and other materials for agriculture, manufacturing, and building.
- 7.7. Earth scientists and engineers develop new technologies to extract resources while reducing the pollution, waste, and ecosystem degradation caused by extraction.
- 7.10. Earth scientists help society move toward greater sustainability.
- Big Idea 9. Humans significantly alter the Earth.
9.1. Human activities significantly change the rates of many of Earth's surface processes. 9.4. Humans affect the quality, availability, and distribution of Earth's water through the modification of streams, lakes, and groundwater. 9.5. Human activities alter the natural land surface. 9.6. Human activities accelerate land erosion. 9.8. Earth scientists document and seek to understand the impacts of humans on global change over short and long time spans. 9.9. An Earth-science-literate public, informed by a current and accurate scientific understanding of Earth, is critical to the promotion of good stewardship, sound policy, and international cooperation.
This module also aligns with three of the National Research Council's (NRC) Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences:
- Grand Challenge 6. Institutions and Resource Use: To develop a systematic understanding of the role of institutions--markets, hierarchies, legal structures, regulatory arrangements, international conventions, and other formal and informal sets of rules--in shaping systems for natural resource use, extraction, waste disposal, and other environmentally important activities.
- Grand Challenge 7. Land-Use Dynamics: To develop a systematic understanding of changes in land uses and land covers that are critical to biogeochemical cycling, ecosystem functioning and services, and human welfare.
- Grand Challenge 8. Reinventing the Use of Materials: To develop a quantitative understanding of the global budgets and cycles of key materials used by humanity and of how the life cycles of these materials may be modified. Among the materials of particular interest for this grand challenge are those with documented or potential environmental impacts, those whose long-term availability is in some question, and those with a high potential for recycling and reuse.
Table of Contents
- Instructor Materials: Overview of the Mineral Resources Module
Unit 1People, Products, and Minerals Unit 2Boom and Bust: How Econ 101 Relates to Rocks Unit 3Mining and Mining Impacts Unit 4Mineral Resources Created by Sedimentary Processes Unit 5Resources Created by Igneous and Metamorphic Processes Unit 6Mining, Society, and Decision Making
- Student Materials
- Instructor Stories
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