Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM
A GUIDED INQUIRY APPROACH TO LEARNING THE GEOLOGY OF THE U.S
A guided inquiry exercise was developed to help teach the geology of the U.S. for use in an upper division undergraduate-level Geology of the National Parks course. The exercise is intended for use early in the school term when students have little or no background knowledge of geology; students should be introduced to rock types (i.e., sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic) and have a basic understanding of geologic time before beginning. This exercise uses three maps: The U.S. Geological Survey's "A Tapestry of Time and Terrain: The Union of Two Maps - Geology and Topography" [http://tapestry.usgs.gov/] and "Landforms of the Conterminous United States - A Digital Shaded-Relief Portrayal" [http://www.usgs.gov/reports/misc/Misc._Investigations_Series_Maps_(I_Series)/I_2206/I_2206.html] maps, and the 1:2,500,000 Geologic Map of the United States. Using these maps, groups of 4 to 6 students were asked to identify between 8 and 12 geologic provinces based on topography, the age of rocks, and the rock types. Each student was given a blank outline map of the contiguous U.S. and each group was given a set of the three maps and colored pencils; as a group, students worked to define regions in the U.S. with similar geology. After a 1-hour period, one member of each group was asked to present their group's findings to the class; students were asked to describe their group's geologic provinces and the reasoning behind their choices. Groups should be kept as small as possible to encourage active participation. A goal of 8 to 12 geologic provinces was given to help establish the level of detail being asked of students. This exercise should be repeated near or at the end of the school term to evaluate progress. This exercise could be adapted for lower-division undergraduate courses, junior- or senior-level high school students, and used in adult education courses.