2003 Seattle Annual Meeting (November 2–5, 2003)

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 1:00 PM-3:45 PM


ALFANO, Mary Jo1, KEANE, Christopher M.1 and RIDKY, Robert W.2, (1)American Geol Institute, 4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302, (2)Education Program Coordinator, United States Geol Survey, MS104 - 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, USGS Headquarters, Reston, VA 20192, mja@agiweb.org

During the summer of 2000, the American Geological Institute and a number of geoscience faculty came together with a goal in mind: to engage introductory-level college students with on-line geoscience data. Their objective was to involve students with the fundamental concepts of a variety of geoscience topics using the abundant real-time and historical data available on-line. Students would search on-line databases to enrich the concepts developed in class. This resource would be usable from semester to semester, with little to no maintenance required by individual instructors. AGI would provide up-to-date instructions, and on-line utilities (plotting, numerical manipulation, etc.), where appropriate. Additional information, including glossary terms, would be at a student's finger tips, ready for exploration. This project became known as EarthInquiry.

Now, in its third year, the EarthInquiry initiative has made significant progress towards its goal. With six modules published on the topics of flooding, minerals, earthquakes, long-term climate change, as well as coastal and volcanic hazards, the project touches on a range of themes covered in introductory geoscience course work. Each activity comes with a printed booklet, published by W.H. Freeman and Company Publishers, and a web-access code that allows students entry into the EarthInquiry web site, maintained by AGI. The web site provides detailed instructions on how to access and interpret the data that is necessary to complete each activity. Students use data extensively from the USGS, as well as from NOAA, FEMA, the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level, and other organizations. Background material, presented at the beginning of each activity, creates a sense of relevance and develops interest in the topic. The activities then go on to pose a series of questions that allow students to gain content understanding, while establishing a comfort-level with the concepts and data presented. Finally, each activity asks students to apply some of the fundamental concepts and skills acquired throughout the course of the investigation. This predominantly multiple choice assessment is automatically graded, with feedback provided by the EarthInquiry web site.

Plans for future activity development will be discussed.