2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 3:45 PM


REESE, Joseph F., Geosciences, Edinboro Univ of Pennsylvania, Cooper Hall, Edinboro, PA 16444, jreese@edinboro.edu

The physical geography of northwestern Pennsylvania is noteworthy in many ways. Modern and ancient Earth systems are documented in abundance in our area, including Lake Erie and pro-glacial shorelines, kettle lakes, distinctive glacial and river landforms, diverse and rare ecosystems, and a long history of human interaction with and exploitation of those landscapes and the underlying bedrock geology. The operation and interaction of this combination of systems uniquely defines our local setting, or our earthscape.

As a class exercise, students capture the essence of northwestern Pennsylvania's earthscape by identifying the area's defining aspects, exploring these, and portraying them effectively and interestingly to classmates. To this end, we address the overarching question: What processes control the features of northwestern Pennsylvania's landscape and how have these environmental aspects affected human activity here? To break this down, we focus on the following questions: What natural features define our local earthscape? What has happened in the geologic past to produce and shape our earthscape? What is happening to shape our landscape today? How does our landscape control human activities in our area? And, which environmentally controlled human activities especially help define northwestern Pennsylvania as a unique place?

Students first identify key defining aspects of the earthscape in northwestern Pennsylvania. Second, each student gathers pertinent information on an assigned aspect. Students collect graphics, photographs, and information electronically from websites from various agencies and search the literature for pertinent written references. Next, students construct individual presentations on their assigned aspect. Through words, maps, diagrams and other graphics, data, and photographs, each aspect is described. Students provide interpretations on how each aspect of our local Earth system operates and/or how it has operated in the past. They place a special emphasis on environmental change and how the landscape has controlled human activities in northwestern Pennsylvania because several cases on how the local earthscape has driven human endeavors here are very significant historically and economically (such as Presque Isle SP, petroleum industry, and viticulture).