(I want to thank Erik Klemetti for coming out to snowy MN and giving a great talk yesterday. If you’re considering bringing in a speaker in the next semester and want someone who will give a good talk that is understandable by a broad range of people on campus, invite Erik.)
I’m going to backtrack a bit and post about the activities that I ran last week during the first section of my Iceland course. Some of these activities were entirely designed by me, but most were modified after searching through the SERC database. If you haven’t had the chance to look through the selection of teaching & lab activities as well as course outlines and pages about various analytical methods, they are a wonderful resource for anyone teaching geology.
The first day of lecture started with a GoogleEarth assignment looking at various plate tectonic settings. This assignment is one I made up while teaching Earthquakes & Volcanoes at UPJ and simply tweaked for my Iceland class. I do the lab activity pre-lecture, so that the students get to “observe” things like change in depth around a mid-ocean ridge vs. a convergent margin, relationship between trenches & volcanoes, and age vs. location in the ocean. I have a sequence of leading questions that I ask about placemarks in a kmz file that the students load into GoogleEarth (previously I gave lat / long, but the placemarks work better). I have them look at three different ridges, trenches, and a single hotspot track (Hawaii). I tried for a variety of divergent & convergent zones to highlight the fact that they can vary in width, length, and depth. I’ve also included a few overlays from GeoMapApp (free program that has just been updated & is great for teaching), since you can save specific datasets (e.g. age, bathymetry) as kml files.
Once the students had worked through the assignment (took about an hour), I then gave a very, very short “this is what a divergent, convergent, transform, and hotspot track are” lecture and we did a gallery walk (you hang pieces of paper on the wall with titles such as “divergent” “convergent” and then in small groups the students write down one property / fact about that title then move onto the next piece of paper). The students did a good job of translating what they had seen in the GoogleEarth activity to the characteristics of the different plate settings, which was reassuring.
I’m still thinking about playing with the assignment more before I upload my activity to SERC, but if you’re interested in my kmz file & questions, please leave me a comment.