March 2010 NAGT e-Newsletter: Page 2

Sunrise from summit of Haleakalaa
Sunrise from the summit of Haleakala on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. Details

Additional Resources

Field-Based Learning References from Education Research
This searchable collection of websites and references was developed by the Synthesis of Research on Thinking and Learning in the Geosciences project. Browse through the collection and share a new link if you have one.

Field Geology Education: Historical Perspectives and Modern Approaches (GSA Special Paper 461)
Edited by Steve Whitmeyer, David Mogk and Eric Pyle

Field Geology Education Cover
Field instruction has traditionally been at the core of the geoscience curriculum. The field experience has been integral to the professional development of future geoscientists, and is particularly important as it applies to student understanding of spatial, temporal, and complex relations in the Earth system. This volume seeks to broaden participation in field instruction by showcasing diverse approaches to teaching in the field.

Geography, Earth and Environmental Science (GEES) Subject Centre
GEES has published two important volumes on fieldwork,
Designing Effective Fieldwork for the Environmental and Natural Sciences - John Maskall and Alison Stokes, University of Plymouth
Teaching Geoscience through Fieldwork - Rob Butler, University of Aberdeen

Teaching in the Field

For this issue of the e-News, we have dedicated Page 2 to resources and information about teaching geoscience in the field - one of the signature aspects of our discipline. Below you'll find articles and links to resources to help with this critical aspect of engaging our students with the Earth system.

NAGT's Teaching in the Field Collection

The Teaching in the Field project of NAGT has collected over 40 field activities from individuals and sections around the US. The project was started to gather the collective field education expertise of the NAGT membership and provide an archive of field guides furthering the ability of K-12 teachers, faculty, community groups, and others to lead scientifically accurate, pedagogically effective field trips.

The activity pages in the collection describe field experiences ranging from afternoon field trips to multi-week field courses. These descriptions include information such as the locales involved, the target audience for the trip, as well as ideas for how to modify the trip for different circumstances. They provide the information and materials necessary for another educator to run that same field trip in the same locale. But more importantly, they highlight the issues that the educator considered when designing the activity which makes it possible for others to learn the from their process as well as run their trip.

Check out the collection of field activities and consider contributing one of your own to the effort.

Teaching with GeoPads

By David Mogk, Montana State University

Field geology is benefiting greatly from digital technologies of all kind. In particular, the use of ruggedized laptop and palmtop computers with integrated GPS, GIS, data management, and note-taking software presents a fundamentally new way to map and collect other data in the field. This combination of integrated technologies, generically called a "GeoPad", can offer exciting avenues in teaching field geology and geologic mapping. The use of this field-based computer technology is fast becoming the industry standard, and presents an important new dimension of instruction to better prepare our students for future careers in the geosciences. Be part of the growing community that is using these exciting new capabilities to support teaching and learning in the field. (Continue reading...)

Earth and Mind Blog: Field-Base Learning Posts

The folks at the Earth and Mind Blog love looking for linkages connecting geosciences with cognitive sciences. With its many cognitive and affective interplays, Field-Based Learning is fertile ground for these linkages.

  • Through a Lens Darkly and Then Face to Face
    Posted: Nov 1 2009 by David Mogk
    I've been hiking every Sunday this past fall with a group of geology majors--the Sunday Hiking Club. We are doing a service-learning project to create trailside posters and websites that explain the natural history of popular trails in the mountains surrounding our town.
  • Even Darwin Struggled with Dip and Strike
    Posted: Sept 21 2009 by Kim Kastens
    When students were asked what aspects of introductory geology they found most troublesome, dip and strike featured on many students' hit lists. One thread of my research with psychologist Lynn Liben seeks to understand why dip and strike are so hard for so many students...
  • Conation
    Posted: Aug 27 2009 by David Mogk
    This past week I had the opportunity to join Cathy Manduca and her family on a backpacking trip to the Spanish Peaks area in the northern Madison Range just southwest of Bozeman, Montana. This is an area where I have had an ongoing research project for ~25 years, and I needed to go back and re-check the field relations in a very complicated high-grade ductile shear zone...

Teaching with Google Earth

Google Earth is a natural companion to teaching in the field, and the Teaching with Google Earth module points the way to approaches for bringing this popular tool into your classroom, lab or field trip. This module, authored by Glenn Richard of Stony Brook University, contains handy printable tip sheets for students, a user's guide, and suggestions for how to use Google Earth to produce imagery, as a research tool, or to actively engage students in using the program for assignments. A companion collection contains 28 teaching activities that use Google Earth in undergraduate teaching, with topics ranging from environmental reconnaissance of a salt marsh, to measuring characteristics of streams to observing outcrop patterns.

Trail Guides: Informal Field Education for the Public

By David Mogk, Montana State University

The Trail Guides project was developed to provide the hiking public with information about the natural history of popular hikes around Bozeman, MT. Our hope is that the hiking experience will be more enjoyable if hikers have a bit of knowledge about the natural history of the area. So we have prepared online trail guides to encourage the public to hike these trails and to help the public know what to look for and how to interpret the natural phenomena encountered on the trail. (Continue reading...)

Activity Highlight

If you have a favorite activity that you would like to see highlighted in a future issue, tell us about it.

Making A Soil Monolith

Aleshia Mueller, Carleton College
Activity Sheet with video of students making a monolith.

This activity from the Using Field Labs section of the Starting Point: Teaching Introductory Geoscience website has students completing both field and laboratory work to create a soil monolith. The students collected the soil profile in the field and then preserve it for display. A 4-minute video of the process in action with voice-over instructions and comments can help students and faculty become comfortable with trying it out.

Making a soil monolith is valuable both as an experience for students as well as for the product of the activity. Students gain up-close experience with soil composition, texture, and horizons. The monolith itself is very useful because although visual interpretation is an integral component of understanding soil profiles, it is not always possible or convenient to examine soil in situ. After it's creation, the monolith can be displayed and used by your department or it could be donated to a museum or science center for broader use those without direct access to the site.

In the next issue, we'll post a map of where this activity has been used based on the responses and a summary of people's experience with using it.

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