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Geologic Time Activities


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Relative Geologic Time and the Geologic Time Scale
Bret Bennington, Hofstra University
Group simulation of the development of the geologic time scale illustrating concepts of correlation and relative time. Extremely effective for teaching the significance of the geologic time scale.

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Geologic Time Calculations
Francisco San Juan, Elizabeth City State University
Radiometric age determination using parent/daughter composition and a radiometric decay curve.

Learning Assessment #6 - Geologic Time (2010)
Leslie Reid, University of Calgary; Michelle Speta, University of Alberta
An in-class activity that tests students' understanding of the principles of relative age, absolute age and numerical age dating.

Learning Assessment #5 - Geologic Time (2011)
Leslie Reid, University of Calgary; Michelle Speta, University of Alberta
An in-class activity that tests students' understanding of the principles of relative age, absolute age and numerical age bracketing.

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South Carolina Studies: Bringing the Geologic Time Scale Down to Earth in the Students' Backyard
John Wagner, Clemson University
Students visit Drayton Hall historic plantation near Charleston, South Carolina and are led on a field trip that starts with a discussion of documented historic changes that have affected the mansion and the surrounding property. The field trip continues with a study of Native American artifacts and ends with analysis of coastal plain deposits exposed along the Ashley River. Students use paleogeographic maps to discuss both historic and prehistoric changes to the landscape. Back in the classroom, students gather data to draw paleogeographic maps of their own school site through geologic time.

Driving Through Geologic Time - An analogy
Eric Baer, Highline Community College
An analogy of the Earth's history to a cross-country drive.

Teaching geologic time and rates of landscape evolution with dice
Kate Ruhl, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Landscape evolution provides a convenient framework for understanding geologic time and rates because students can observe how processes like erosion and deposition shape their surroundings. In this example, students build 3-D sandbox models based on topographic maps and design and stage a "virtual adventure race." Sandbox landscapes are used to illustrate erosional processes,while local examples are used to discuss landscapes as transient or steady over different time- and length scales. Dice experiments illustrate radioactive decay and the shape of the age equation curve, and 14C dating, geochronology and thermochronology are introduced as "stopwatches" that start when a plant dies, a crystal forms, or a rock nears the surface and cools to a certain temperature. The sandbox model and thermochronometer "stopwatches" are combined to measure erosion rates and rates of landscape change. Ultimately, model rates (cm/hour) calculated from stopwatch times on the order of seconds can be related to geologic rates (km/My) calculated from real million-year-old samples.

Lifelines and "Earth lines"
LeeAnn Srogi, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
This activity can be used as a first lab for an introductory-level geoscience course. It is a cooperative ice-breaker gets students to know one another and opens discussion for geologic time and earth history.

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How Many Is A Million?
Roger Steinberg, Del Mar College
Roger Steinberg, Department of Natural Sciences, Del Mar College Description To help students visualize the immensity of geologic time, or even the immensity of just one million years, I have created a very large ...

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Hierarchical Alignment of Timelines
Ilyse Resnick, University of Delaware
In the hierarchical alignment activity students progressively and hierarchically align scale information to a spatial linear representation. The progressive alignment of scales may alleviate the conceptual ...

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