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

Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 10:35 AM


ALFANO, Mary Jo1, KEANE, Christopher M.1 and RIDKY, Robert W.2, (1)American Geological Institute, 4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302, (2)U.S. Geological Survey, MS 104, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20192, mja@agiweb.org

Several years ago, in an effort to find new ways to enhance undergraduate education in the geosciences, the American Geological Institute (AGI) began developing a series of activities called EarthInquiry. AGI’s goal was to demonstrate how to engage introductory-level college students with on-line geoscience data. With the help of geoscience instructors, AGI wanted to create a long-term resource that required little to no maintenance on the part of individual teaching faculty. By involving students with the fundamental concepts of geology, and making use of the abundant geoscience data available on-line, AGI hoped to illustrate the advantages of web-based learning for college students.

With modules published on the topics of flooding, minerals, earthquakes, long-term climate change, drinking water contamination as well as coastal and volcanic hazards, EarthInquiry 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, and a web-access code that allows students entry into the EarthInquiry web site, maintained by AGI. 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. The EarthInquiry web site acts as a gateway to the on-line data sets needed to complete each activity. It also provides up-to-date instructions, data analysis utilities, glossary terms, and links to supplementary information. Students use data extensively from the USGS, as well as from NOAA, FEMA, the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level, and other organizations.