September 2010 NAGT e-Newsletter: Page 2

Monument Valley
A view of Monument Valley, Utah. Photo by Moritz Zimmerman. Details

Teaching with Events in the News

Using current events to get students interested in material is a time-honored teaching strategy. The resources and references on this page provide materials on a variety of topics of interest to geoscience educators.

Incorporating the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill into Geomicrobiology Courses

Annette Summers Engel, Louisiana State University

Geomicrobiology is one of the most recent, cutting-edge interdisciplinary fields in the geological and biological sciences. Geomicrobiologists are concerned with understanding how microorganisms control important geological processes, such as mineral dissolution and precipitation, as well as how microbes regulate the distribution of elements in diverse environments at and below the Earth's surfaces. As microbes shape their habitats, the environment changes geochemically and physically. These changes, in turn, exert control over the evolution and structure of microbial communities. From fossils and biochemical tracers, scientists are provided a legacy of microbially mediated processes through time. Continue reading...

Teaching About Hurricanes During Hurricane Season

A very active hurricane season is well underway in the tropical Atlantic. This provides an excellent opportunity to integrate a newsworthy topic into the curriculum. The physical processes that drive storm formation can be integrated into any number of physical science courses. Below are some resources that faculty members can use to help their students understand these complex and powerful weather systems.

(Contributions from Cindy Shellito, University of Northern Colorado)

Teaching Quantitative Reasoning with the News

This pedagogic module from Pedagogy in Action describes a teaching method which uses newspaper articles as content for the critical analysis of quantitative information. Being current and relevant, newspaper articles provide students with an easy answer to the question "When will I ever use this?" Quantitative comparisons, graphical analyses, and elementary modeling can all be approached and supported with case studies comprised of media articles.
Module on PIA Website

Visualizations and Teaching Materials About Disasters and Hazards

On the Cutting Edge continues to compile collections of visualizations and resources related to natural disasters and hazards events in the news. These events provide short windows of teaching opportunity when students and the general public have an intense interest in Earth processes. The most recent examples of this work include pages related to the January 2010 Haiti Earthquake, the February 2010 Chile Earthquake, the 2010 Icelandic Volcano Eruption, and Oil Spills.

New Topical Area on Complex Systems

Following on a workshop held in April, 2010, On the Cutting Edge has developed a new topical area on Developing Student Understandings of Complex Systems in the Geosciences. The website includes resources on what complex systems are; pedagogies that are effective in teaching about them; and collections of activities, course descriptions, and other teaching materials that are useful in the classroom. Presentations, outcomes, and other materials from the workshop are also available through the website.

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