Northeastern Section - 36th Annual Meeting (March 12-14, 2001)

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM-12:00 PM


RANDALL, Anna L., Department of Geology, Colby College, 6576 Mayflower Hill, Waterville, ME 04901 and DEIKE, Ruth, Become a Rock Detective, 593 Gardiner Road, Dresden, ME 04342,

Grade school children are introduced to the simple origin of granites as melted continental crust early in their education, but during the past decade our understanding of granite genesis has changed dramatically due to advances in petrographic and field-related studies. The emerging paradigm of granite genesis calls upon multi-stage pluton emplacement driven by periodic mafic injections into the magma. To incorporate these new and exciting concepts into K-12 geoscience education, it is necessary to simplify the material without altering its basic principles. The introduction of these concepts must be simple enough for both students and their teachers (many of whom have little or no geoscience background) to grasp. A geoscience education project has been developed using the commercially available Rock Detective that addresses this need.

The Rock Detective is a hands-on, inquiry-based program designed to supplement traditional teaching tools in the classroom. Through this program, we provide a mechanism for introducing the new granite paradigm and other fundamental geoscience concepts to middle schoolers. In order to simplify these complex concepts, we employ a variety of techniques that include: (1) Using observable hand specimen characteristics as a segue into these fundamental concepts; (2) Leading students through simple measurements to understand basic properties of matter and the Earth; (3) Using concrete, hands-on activities allowing students to discover the properties or concepts themselves; and (4) Relating geoscience knowledge to the student’s own experiences. The use of such methodologies has allowed us to maintain the original factual information and intent while creating a foundation on which continuing knowledge can be built.