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

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM


ASHER, Pranoti M.1, VANCE, Robert K.1 and JENKINS, Stephen J.2, (1)Department of Geology and Geography, Georgia Southern Univ, Statesboro, GA 30461-8149, (2)Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading, Georgia Southern Univ, College of Education, Statesboro, GA 30460-8144, PAsher@GeorgiaSouthern.Edu

The purchase of a Rigaku MiniFlex XRD (NSF DUE 0311730) allowed us to create project-based investigations of household and construction materials and soils to explore properties and application of industrial minerals in an environmental geology laboratory course at Georgia Southern University. Students collected and analyzed their own data, applied higher order skills and worked in small groups during the course.

The household materials exercise included the basic theory of XRD and the identification of the mineral content of various cleaning agents (e.g. bathroom and kitchen cleaners), cosmetics, personal hygiene products (e.g. toothpaste, deodorant), and over the counter medicine. The construction material exercise included identification and discussion of essential minerals components in building materials and the identification and hazard assessment of asbestiform minerals. The soils exercise, linked to a campus field trip, required determination of the minerals present in soil at different sites and horizons and relating mineral content to soil properties and environment of origin.

Considerable planning and preparation time were necessary prior to conducting these laboratory exercises. Managing the laboratory time to provide adequate “hands-on” time for each student group was critical for successful implementation of the exercises. One-half of the laboratory sections over the grant period were taught these exercises in the traditional manner while the rest used the XRD. Both groups were measured twice: a pre-test at the beginning of the semester and a post-test after completing the exercises. While the pretest scores did not differ significantly between the two groups, the post-test score for many of the XRD groups was slightly higher than many of the non-XRD groups. Results from our evaluation suggest that this method of instruction of mineral science concepts has improved student learning and the attitudes of students enrolled in our courses. The XRD has also been used in other courses, senior thesis research projects, teacher workshops, and community outreach efforts. Several presentations and dissemination efforts have resulted from this project.