Geologic time scale hiking tour group project

Erik Haroldson, Austin Peay State University
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Initial Publication Date: October 24, 2018 | Reviewed: December 10, 2020


Students work in groups to develop content for am online hiking tour which is matched to the geologic time scale. This project has been used as a semester group work project in an introductory geologic history course, but could be adapted for high school or upper level and graduate courses focused on outreach.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



I have used this in an introductory level historical geology course.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must have some familiarity with computers and be able to design a single page presentation which includes text and images.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a semester project split into two parts, the first half students prepare the written description part of their designated time period, the second part they create the online display content which includes their updated written text from part 1.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

This project reinforces Earth history and allows students to explore further details of a particular time period. As well, students learn about outreach and how to target a public audience.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students learn to: Evaluate public resources of information, Analyze the history of the Earth, Create publicly available web content

Other skills goals for this activity

Students are encouraged to consider the outreach aspect of developing a publicly available piece of information. To reinforce this, in an earlier lab exercise in the course I have the students (in groups) create the geologic time scale in chalk on campus sidewalks, with the goal of creating these scales to be interpret-able by the public.

Description and Teaching Materials

Students work in groups of 2 or 3 to gather and report information on a particular time period in Earth history. The time scale is broken up as needed to accommodate the number of students in the class. For the first half of the semester, students are assigned to write a 600 - 1,200 word summary of their time period. This write-up is given loads of feedback by the instructor and returned to the students. The students then begin to develop google drawings which include their write-up as well as figures from the literature which make their drawings more interesting. The google drawings are linked to a map which the instructor creates, although advanced students could be given this task as well. The map is a hiking tour which is matched to the geologic time scale. The final product is presented to the general public as an opportunity to explore the geologic time scale while venturing a classic hike in your area.
Student Handout and Teaching Notes (Acrobat (PDF) 145kB Oct23 18)

Teaching Notes and Tips

I provided one lab section to work on the final presentations. Despite numerous attempts to warn the students to begin early, the bulk of groups utilized the lab section as their primary work time on their projects. It was fairly obvious which groups put in further effort outside this lab period.

Consider Standardizing the page design to make the final project more aesthetically pleasing, however that may limit student creativity

If students wish to add multiple pages you should create the page in your google account as opposed to allowing students to create them.


A rubric is provided in the attached materials. The goal of the grading is to encourage participation and effort, as opposed to picking apart minor inaccuracies.

References and Resources

The images and hyperlinked buttons in the map were produced in Google Drawings, I found the following web page very helpful:

An example of the final product from Spring 2018 GLG 102 - Historical Geology is here: