Science Education Resource Center (SERC)
I earned my B.A. in Mathematics from Carleton College in 1989 and my Ph.D. in Structural Geology from the University of Minnesota in 2000. I taught geology at St. Norbert College (De Pere, WI) and Wittenberg University (Springfield, OH) for a total of five years. Since 2005, I've worked at the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College, with responsibilities related to faculty professional development, online resource development, and research on learning. See my SERC staff page for more information.
Website Content Contributions
Slicing Cylinders part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students identify and draw slices through cylinders and partial cylinders, and use gestures to visualize slicing planes. This practice with visualizing slices through idealized geometric shapes is preparation for visualizing slices through geological features.
Understanding Polyhedral Diagrams part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students identify individual polyhedra in a variety of diagrams and answer questions about shared oxygens in diagrams of common silicate structures.
Slices Through 3D Objects part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students identify and draw slices through an ice cream cone, a pyramid, and a beverage six-pack.
Guided Reading of Scientific Journal Articles part of Structural Geology:Activities
This is a sequence of assignments for my Structural Geology course that guides students through the process of critically reading and analyzing scientific journal articles. For each article, I outline the general ...
Flood Frequency and Risk Assessment part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Students calculate recurrence intervals for various degrees of flooding based on historical data. Students then do a risk assessment for the surrounding community.
Comparing Phyllosilicate Structures part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students compare the chemistry and structures of biotite, muscovite, and chlorite.
Sketching Block Diagrams part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students watch a video of the instructor sketching two geologic block diagrams (of flat stratigraphy and of an upright anticline), then practice sketching additional geologic block diagrams.
Understanding Crystal Symmetry via Gestures part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students use a small mirror to explore the meaning of mirror symmetry, and then use their hands to gesture mirror planes for a group of familiar objects. They also explore the rotational symmetry of a group of familiar objects, and then use their hands to gesture the rotational axes and rotation. Finally, they use gestures to show mirror and rotational symmetry of wooden crystal models.
Deformation Mechanisms and Microstructures part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students match microstructures to the deformation mechanisms by which they form; compare pairs of photomicrographs chosen to highlight key differences between some common microstructures; and complete a self-quiz in which they identify microstructures and infer deformation mechanisms from photomicrographs.
Contractional Strain part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students use gesture to describe the bulk deformation and local deformation apparent in images of a contractional analog experiment. Students then calculate bulk shortening and bulk thickening for the experiment and describe the structures accommodating that strain.
Using play-doh to understand 3D Flinn Plots part of Structural Geology:Activities
In this activity, students are introduced to the 3D Flinn Plot. They have previous experience with 1+e2 vs. 1+e1 plots of plane strain, but this is their first exposure to 3D strain. Students deform play-doh, then ...
Interpreting the surficial deposits of Glacier National Park, Montana part of Introductory Courses:Activities
Students interpret a GIS map of surficial deposits in Glacier National Park to unravel a bit of the glacial history of the park.
Geology of the Grand Canyon part of Introductory Courses:Activities
Students analyze topographic and geologic maps, through a set of guiding questions, to decipher the geologic history recorded in the rocks of the Grand Canyon.
Erosion of the Grand Canyon part of Introductory Courses:Activities
Students estimate the volume of the Grand Canyon to calculate the average rate of erosion of the canyon, assuming the canyon began to form approximately 6 million years ago. They then find out how much sediment the ...
Bedrock Geology of Glacier National Park part of Introductory Courses:Activities
Students use the bedrock geologic map of Glacier National Park, and its cross-sections, to decipher the geologic story recorded in the rocks.
Chemistry of Cave Formation part of Introductory Courses:Activities
Students investigate what happens to calcium carbonate in an aqueous solution when the pH of the water changes.
Geology of Mammoth Cave National Park part of Introductory Courses:Activities
Students analyze topographic and geologic maps, through a set of guiding questions, to figure out why western Kentucky is home to the world-famous cave system at Mammoth Cave National Park.
Olympus Mons and Hawaii part of Introductory Courses:Activities
Students estimate the volume of Olympus Mons and the volume of lava that has erupted from the Hawaiian hotspot and compare them.
Geology of Hawaii part of Introductory Courses:Activities
Students examine a geologic map of Hawaii and begin to decipher it.
Geology of Yellowstone National Park part of Introductory Courses:Activities
Students examine and interpret the geologic map of Yellowstone National Park, focusing on its volcanic history.
Geology of Crater Lake part of Introductory Courses:Activities
Students examine and interpret geologic and topographic maps of Crater Lake.
Topographic comparison, volcanic terrains part of Introductory Courses:Activities
Students construct a topographic profile through a stratovolcano, then compare it to topo profiles from several other volcanic landscapes.
Fault Separation part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students use gestures to explore the relationship between fault slip direction and fault separation by varying the geometry of faulted layers and the slip direction.
Deciphering Mineral Structure Diagrams part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students compare mineral structures shown in ball-and-stick, space filling, and polyhedral diagrams.
Comparing Quartz Polymorphs part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students compare the structures of low-temperature and high-temperature polymorphs of quartz, relating their differences to symmetry and crystal systems.
Gestures for Silicate Structures part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students use gestures to show the structures of single and double chain silicate minerals, paying attention to where silica tetrahedra share oxygen ions and the relative positions of the tetrahedra.
Understanding Mineral Cleavage via Gestures part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students use gesture to convey information about mineral cleavage and the relationship between crystal structures and cleavage planes.
Primary Structures and Rotation part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students gesture the orientations of cross-bedded sandstones, and in particular the relationship between a single cross bed and the bed sets. They do this for photos of undeformed and deformed cross-bedding.
Restraining Bends and Releasing Bends part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students use gestures to re-create the motion of fault blocks adjacent to restraining bends and releasing bends. They then answer a few questions about a map view of the San Andreas Fault and two of its bends.
Folds and Cleavage part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students explore the geometric relationship between bedding/cleavage intersections and fold axes for axial planar, fanning, and transecting cleavage.
Linear and Planar Features part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students gesture the orientations of linear and planar features. In the first part of the exercise, students can only see one surface of a wooden block, and are asked to speculate about how planar features penetrate through the interior. Later, they uncover the other faces of the block and gesture the actual orientations.
Gestures for Miller Indices part of Spatial Thinking Workbook:Teaching Activities
Students use one hand to gesture crystallographic axes and the other hand to represent planes designated by Miller Indices.
Geology of the National Parks part of Course Design:Goals Database
Geology of the National Parks Your Account From NAGT's On the ...
Conference Presentations (5)
Teaching Spatial Thinking in Mineralogy, Structural Geology, and Sedimentology & Stratigraphy: Tools and Strategies from Cognitive Science Research part of Rendezvous 2015:Program:Abstracts
Spatial visualization is an essential skill in the STEM disciplines, including the geological sciences. Undergraduate students, including geoscience majors in upper-level courses, bring a wide range of spatial ...
Differences in Spatial Reasoning Skills in Undergraduate Geology Students and the Effect of Weekly Spatial Skill Trainings part of Rendezvous 2015:Program:Abstracts
Spatial reasoning is a key skill for student success in STEM disciplines in general and for students in geosciences in particular. However, spatial reasoning is neither explicitly trained, nor evenly distributed, ...
Using Mixed Methods to Explore Field Sketching: An Example from the Hat Creek Fault Zone part of Rendezvous 2015:Program:Abstracts
Sketching is a common yet powerful means of communication and visualization in the geosciences. Particularly in field settings, geoscientists sketch in order to record data, explore interpretations, and communicate ...
Supporting and Advancing Geoscience Education in Two-Year Colleges (SAGE 2YC): Building a Foundation for Change through a Network of Regional Communities of Practice part of Earth Educators Rendezvous:Rendezvous 2017:Program:Poster Sessions:Friday
One goal of SAGE 2YC: Faculty as Change Agents is to develop regional communities that can promote a cycle of change through activities that allow members to share experiences, synthesize expertise, and document ...
CogSketch worksheet: Promoting sketching in the geosciences with interactive technology part of Earth Educators Rendezvous:Previous Rendezvous:Rendezvous 2016:Program:Poster Sessions:Tuesday
Sketching is a valuable activity to help students develop spatial skills and understand difficult geoscience concepts. Yet, sketching is rarely implemented at the introductory level due to the time needed to grade ...
Other Contributions (4)
What would a GER toolbox look like? part of Earth Educators Rendezvous:Previous Rendezvous:Rendezvous 2016:Program:Morning Workshops:GER:Idea Papers
Thomas F. Shipley (Temple University) and Carol Ormand (Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College) This essay draws from our experience with the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center, an NSF funded ...
Spatial Reasoning in the Geosciences part of Earth Educators Rendezvous:Previous Rendezvous:Rendezvous 2016:Program:Morning Workshops:Spatial Reasoning
How can we improve students' spatial reasoning? This workshop will present an overview of research on spatial skills and how those research results can be applied to student learning in the classroom, lab, and ...
Applying Cognitive Science Research to Improve Geoscience Teaching and Learning part of Structural Geology:2014 Structure and Tectonics Forum Abstracts
Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College Thomas F. Shipley, Psychology, Temple University Basil Tikoff, University of Wisconsin - Madison The Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center conducts research on spatial ...
Plate Boundaries and Volcanoes part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:First Day of Class:Activities
Carol Ormand, Wittenberg University Course: Geology of the National Parks 28 students Students remember what they have seen and done much better than they remember what you have told them. Working with real, ...
Central Section, Geo2YC: The Two-Year College Division, Geoscience Education Research Division
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