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

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


D'ALESSIO, Matthew A.1, PEHL, Jenny1, FERRIER, Kenneth1, PEHL, Curtis1 and MONTGOMERY, Wren, (1)Earth and Planetary Science, Univ of California, Berkeley, 307 McCone Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-4767, dalessio@seismo.berkeley.edu

The students enrolled in our Geology 215 class are about as non-traditional as it gets. They range in age from about 20 - 50 years old, they are all male, all from under-represented ethnic groups, and they are all serving time in one of the country's most notorious prisons. We teach in a degree-granting community college program inside California's San Quentin State Prison. The program is run entirely by volunteers, and students who participate in educational programs like ours are about 5 times less likely to return to prison than the general inmate population in California. While some trends in geoscience education encourage the use of technology in the classroom, security restrictions prevent us from using even some of the simplest visual aids. Faced with these challenges, we have developed an inquiry-based syllabus for an introductory Geology class at the community college level. We find that kinesthetic learning activities such as urban geologic mapping and acting out plate tectonic motions from ridge to trench (complete with magnetic pole polarity shifts) are not only possible in restricted learning environments, but they promote student learning in unexpected ways.