2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 29
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


BATTLES, Denise A., Department of Geology and Geography, Georgia Southern Univ, P.O. Box 8149, Statesboro, GA 30460 and HUDAK, Jane Rhoades, Department of Art, Georgia Southern Univ, P.O. Box 8032, Statesboro, GA 30460, dbattles@georgiasouthern.edu

The visual arts offer a variety of topics that may be used as the basis for teaching geoscience concepts at the introductory college level, as evidenced by “Art and Geology” courses now offered by a number of institutions. For many faculty members, a significant challenge associated with teaching geoscience in relation to art is the dearth of educational materials designed to support such instruction. This abstract’s authors, geology and art faculty members, have created and offered an Art and Geology course and are developing a prototypal college textbook aimed at addressing this issue. Each chapter of the envisioned book will focus on a specific art medium (painting, sculpture, etc.) or theme, providing the framework through which art and geology content is introduced and considered.

The medium of jewelry is one that is well-suited to teaching introductory geoscience concepts, facilitating the instruction of many topics covered in the “Minerals” component of a traditional physical geology class, but in an applied and in-context way. Concepts such as chemical bonding and the definition, characteristics, and physical properties of minerals arise naturally through a discussion of “Jewelry, Gems, and Metalsmithing,” the focus of an Art and Geology module and one textbook chapter under development. For example, a discussion of desirable gemstone qualities can be utilized to introduce the concepts of mineral hardness, luster, cleavage, color, and other optical properties, whereas the technique of metalsmithing illustrates well the property of tenacity and the influence of bond type on a mineral’s attributes.

A key focus of the educational materials being developed is the incorporation of hands-on, problem-solving activities, in keeping with the literature on pedagogical “best practices.” The inclusion in each chapter of one or more carefully-chosen case studies allows students to apply their knowledge to a specific example and explore interdisciplinary connections. In the jewelry chapter, for instance, a case study examines the peridots of Zabargad Island, Egypt, an important historical source of gem-quality olivine mined from what is interpreted to be mantle-derived ultramafic rocks exposed along the Red Sea rift.

This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0231106.