In the Trenches - October 2014

Volume 4, Number 4

In This Issue

Online Supplements This site provides web links that supplement the print articles as well as news and web resources. To receive the full edition of In the Trenches, join NAGT

Letter from the Editor

Cindy Shellito, Editor in Chief

This month geoscientists from across North America will gather in Vancouver, B.C., for the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. Vancouver, a place long touted for fantastic scenery and complex geologic history, provides the perfect opportunity for visitors to consider the power of a place to inspire interest in geoscience. Read more...

Restoring a Lost Sense of Place: An Interdisciplinary Course in the Anthracite Coal Region of Pennsylvania

D.H. Vice, Penn State HAzleton, and Harold Aurand, Jr., Penn State Schuylkill

Place-based education is a methodology used in the Earth sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Its central premise is that people understand their surroundings by conceptualizing them as distinct places. Each physical locality acquires meaning by being experienced, whether through scientific investigation or through inhabiting or visiting the locality. The meanings people associate with a location and whether they are attracted, indifferent or adverse to it, constitute their sense of place (Semken, 2011). This article describes an upper-level, interdisciplinary American studies course on the geology and history of the Pennsylvania Anthracite Region near the Penn State Schuylkill Campus in central Pennsylvania. The primary goal of this course was to recreate in the students a sense of place, so that they understand how the local physical environment and cultural heritage are interconnected and continue to affect lives today. The course was interdisciplinary and was taught by an Earth scientist and a historian. We did not share the exact same interests, which was a challenge, but, in the end, meant that we presented material to the students in ways that all could understand.

NAGT, GSA and CUR Education Division Awards for 2014

Congratulations to this year's winners!

Read about all of the 2014 NAGT, GSA, and CUR Education Awards (Acrobat (PDF) 6.1MB Oct6 14).

NGSS: Three Resonating Themes for Geoscience Education

Kurtz K Miller, Thurgood Marshall STEM High School, Dayton Public Schools, Dayton, Ohio

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are paving the way for more STEM-literate citizens, students, and workers. This article outlines three central themes of the NGSS. Theme one is the integration of the engineering design process within the contexts of standards-based geoscience curriculum (Miller, 2013; National Academy of Engineering, 2013; National Research Council, 2013). The second theme is the breaking down of academic "silos" to provide students with a context-rich, integrative geosciences curriculum (National Research Council, 2013). The third theme is the need for a new generation of authentic, high-quality assessments to measure creativity, design thinking, problem solving, and scientific inquiry (Herman and Linn, 2014; National Research Council, 2014). With forethought and preparation, pre-service geoscience educators can be better positioned to help K-12 educators make appropriate changes in assessment, curriculum, and instruction.

Paleolithic Rock & Roll: Making Music with Granite and Shale --- An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching Geology and Physics

Adriana P. B. Tufaile, Alberto Tufaile, Carlos Molina Mendes, Arlino C. Liverio Jr., and Eduardo M. Santos, the School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, University of Sao Paulo-EACH-USP, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Rosely A. L. Imberson, Program in Teaching and History of Earth Sciences at the University of Campinas, Campinas, Brasil

Rocks have been used as musical instruments since ancient times. Lithophones, from the Greek lithos (stone), are percussion instruments based on rock plates. They are similar to the more common xylophones, but with unique musical characteristics that reflect their peculiar design. In England, the history of lithophones dates back to the 18th century (Ng and Ong, 2010).
Music is an appealing subject for students, and is the central theme in the interdisciplinary teaching approach introduced here. So we have constructed and analyzed a lithophone to use as an educational tool in geology and physics classes.

My Favorite Demonstration: The Reasons for the Seasons

Martha Murphy, Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, California

Have you ever asked your general education students what causes the seasons? For that matter, have you ever asked your friends and family the same question? You'd be amazed at the different responses and at the number of people who don't know the correct answer. Many people are under the mistaken impression that the seasons change due to changes in Earth's distance from the sun, when in fact the seasons change as Earth rotates around the sun because Earth is tilted on its axis.

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Web Features

NAGT, its members, and its sponsored projects have produced a number of resources related to the topics addressed in this issue.

Campus-Based Learning »

Campus-based learning uses the campus buildings and grounds as teaching tools. Campus-based learning can be used in all of the parts of the geoscience umbrella, from the most specific geology class to the broadest introductory environmental studies class.

Curriculum for the Bioregion »

Curriculum for the Bioregion is a network of educators in Washington State who are integrating sustainability and place-based content in a broad array of undergraduate courses.

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