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"Adopt an Outcrop"

Mary Savina, Carleton College (msavina@carleton.edu)
Author Profile

This material was originally developed as part of the Carleton College Teaching Activity Collection
through its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Summary

In this lab, each student or small student group "adopts" a different outcrop or roadcut, describing and interpreting both the outcrop scale features and hand specimens.

Learning Goals

Goals

  • To increase students' confidence in their ability to describe and interpret outcrop geology
  • To give students a sense of "ownership" about their work on one particular exposure.

Skills

  • Practice with outcrop and hand specimen description
  • Practice with measuring structural features in space
  • Report writing

Context for Use

This field lab should follow field and indoor instruction on rock and mineral identification, hand specimen description, and outcrop description. It works well as a homework assignment for students to do on their own time outside of formal class and lab. It also works well as a formal field lab in a place with many exposures (enough for each student or small groups of students). In this case, the minimum time required is probably two to three hours.

Students should have or have access to this equipment:

  • Compass
  • meter stick and/or tape measure
They should have a field notebook, pencil and ruler to make sketches and take notes.

Teaching Materials

Students will need copies of instructions on describing hand specimens (Acrobat (PDF) 64kB Mar11 04) and outcrops. (Acrobat (PDF) 117kB Mar10 04) For easy reference in the field, these can be reduced in size on a copier and then pasted in the backs of the students' field notebooks.


Follow this link (Acrobat (PDF) 60kB Mar11 04) to a sample lab handout for an "adopt-an-outcrop" field exercise.

Teaching Notes and Tips

This is a fun lab for students because they acquire some "ownership" over their outcrop. On the other hand, with a large class, the assessment could become overwhelming. It is not necessary that you visit all of the sites chosen by students. You can assess the quality of observations, descriptions, sketches and interpretations on their own merits. Particularly with introductory geoscience students, it may be most important to assess the level of observation, description and analysis rather than whether each of their rock IDs and structural measurements is correct.

This lab also lends itself well to oral reports (with or without PowerPoint) and to poster presentations. Note that the information presented will likely differ depending on which presentation format is selected.

Assessment

Students at an outcrop

It is not necessary that you visit all of the sites chosen by students. You can assess the quality of observations, descriptions, sketches and interpretations on their own merits. Particularly with introductory geoscience students, it may be most important to assess the level of observation, description and analysis rather than whether each of their rock IDs and structural measurements is correct.

Another assessment option for this lab is to have students give short oral reports, either to the class (or a subset of it), to lab assistants, or to the instructor alone. Depending on the size of the class, this may not be possible.


References and Resources


Subject

Geoscience:Geology:Mineralogy:Physical Properties

Resource Type

Activities:Field Activity:Field laboratories, Importation of field observations into the classroom

Special Interest

Field-Based Teaching and Learning

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Ready for Use

Ready to Use:Meets Peer Review Standard:Anonymous Peer Review, Ready to Use

Earth System Topics

Solid Earth:Earth Materials:Minerals

Topics

Solid Earth, Time/Earth History

Theme

Teach the Earth:Enhancing your Teaching:Teaching in the Field, Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Minerals, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Mineralogy