Diagrams in an intro online Earth Science course

Erica Barrow, Ivy Tech Community College-Central Indiana
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Initial Publication Date: May 10, 2017

Summary

Online Earth Science offers a unique opportunity for students to engage in the creation of original diagrams for highly complex geoscience concepts. This activity consists of students creating 4 separate diagrams / sketches at strategic points within an online Earth Science course. Topics of sketches: Rock Cycle, Water Cycle, Earth's Interior Layers, and the Greenhouse Effect.

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Learning Goals

Content/concepts goals
The goal of each diagram is for students to interact with specific science content to create a real-world visualization of a geoscience concept such as the rock cycle, the water cycle, Earth's interior layers, and the greenhouse effect.

Higher order thinking skills goals
Conceptualization and visualization of complex geoscience topics

Other skills goals
searching the www, learning to utilize online drawing tools

Context for Use

Type and level of course
Introductory Online Earth Science course

Skills and concepts students should have mastered
Students need to have mastered the basic content of the Rock Cycle, the Water Cycle, Earth's Interior Layers, and the Greenhouse Effect.

How the activity is situated in the course
Each sketch/diagram that students create is placed immediately following the associated textbook chapter lecture of the course. In other words, students learn about surface water, ground water, and atmospheric interactions with water; then they would create their own unique water cycle diagram.

Description and Teaching Materials

---- Rock Cycle Sketch ----

The rock cycle illustrates the process and transformation of one type of rock into another. The cycle demonstrates that any rock type, under the right circumstances, can be transformed into any other type. Your goal for this assignment is to create your own version of the rock cycle.

Directions: Look over the rock cycle description and pathways illustrated within textbook chapter 3. Create your own unique rock cycle diagram showing the basic cycle stages as well as the alternative pathways within the rock cycle. You may hand-draw your diagram or create something on the computer. Either option must be a unique creation (i.e. DO NOT COPY & PASTE). If you choose to hand-draw your diagram you will need to scan and upload your diagram into Blackboard. Creativity is encouraged.


----Water Cycle Sketch----

The water cycle illustrates the process and transformation of water throughout Earth's spheres. Your goal for this assignment is to create your own version of the water cycle.

Directions: Look over the water cycle description and pathways illustrated within textbook chapter 5. Create your own unique water cycle diagram showing the basic cycle stages as well as the alternative pathways within the water cycle. You may hand-draw your diagram or create something on the computer. Either option must be a unique creation (i.e. DO NOT COPY & PASTE). If you choose to hand-draw your diagram you will need to scan and upload your diagram into Blackboard. Creativity is encouraged.


----Earth's Interior Layers Sketch----

Earth's interior is composed of distinct layers. Your goal for this assignment is to create your own picture of the Earth's interior layers – TO SCALE.

Directions: Look over the description of Earth's interior layers / zones within textbook chapter 8. Create your own unique sketch showing all of Earth's interior layers / zones. Be sure to draw the layers in appropriate scale to each other. In other words, Earth's crust is substantially thinner than Earth's mantle – the approximate difference in thickness should be accurately illustrated on the diagram. At a minimum, your diagram should include: crust, mantle, outer core, inner core, lithosphere, and asthenosphere.

You may hand-draw your diagram or create something on the computer. Either option must be a unique creation (i.e. DO NOT COPY & PASTE). If you choose to hand-draw your diagram you will need to scan and upload your diagram into Blackboard. Creativity is encouraged.


----Greenhouse Effect Sketch----

The Greenhouse Effect is the process where solar radiation / energy is trapped within Earth's atmosphere. Your goal for this assignment is to create your own version of the Greenhouse Effect.

Directions: Look over the description and illustration of the Greenhouse Effect within textbook chapter 16. Create your own unique sketch illustrating how Earth's Greenhouse Effect works. You may hand-draw your diagram or create something on the computer. Either option must be a unique creation (i.e. DO NOT COPY & PASTE). If you choose to hand-draw your diagram you will need to scan and upload your diagram into Blackboard. Creativity is encouraged.




Teaching Notes and Tips

Many students struggle with online drawing tools. I generally provide links to free options such as
PiktoChart - http://piktochart.com - to give students an idea of what is available online.

Another suggestion for instructors - upload samples of each diagram (include both high-quality and low-quality examples) so students know what to expect.

Develop & provide a grading rubric to students for each diagram.

Assessment

Each diagram will be unique, so establish a basic grading rubric for scientific content and creativity of the sketches.

References and Resources

NA