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

Paper No. 15
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


PETERSON, VL., KUREK, J. and RINKE, J., Geology Department, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI 49401, petersvi@gvsu.edu

Our Virtual Geotrips projects is a developing web resource for introductory to advanced level classes intended to provide students with some of the important elements of geologic field trips in situations where they are not otherwise possible and to help students prepare for real field trips. Our pilot project, supported by University teaching and technology enhancement grants, focuses on select Michigan bedrock geology localities, and provides a template for adding other department trips. The web-based virtual resources include maps, photos, and video clips that emphasize the observational experience in the field and will be linked to activities that lead students through the process of scientific investigation and interpretation. Hand samples will be available in the lab for many locations. The web-resource is organized in the form of Tours that lead students through the geology observed at different stations or stops. In some cases, as with the Grand Ledge tour, the exposures are all within a short distance and the focus is on a fairly limited stratigraphic section. Elsewhere, as in the Marquette-area tour, several widely spaced stops expose students to both specific geologic features and rock types and an overview of the geology of the region.

The virtual Geotrips will be initially implemented and tested in a Fall 2005 physical geology class (Exploring the Earth) taught by the first author. In this class of ~100 students with 4 instructor-taught labs, the opportunities for student field activity are limited by weather and class size and most visits to bedrock exposures require several hours of driving. Michigan geology serves as a theme in the course in order to help students better relate to course content. Theme activities include assignments that prompt geologic investigation of student-selected Michigan localities, a trip to the local gypsum mine, and exploration of the campus stream system. The virtual Geotrips assignments will be used to expose students to different aspects of Michigan geology and provide context for several labs. For example, linking description and identification of Geotrip samples in rocks labs to Geotrip assignments will give contextual purpose to rock identification. Thus, the virtual Geotrips provide context and expand the range of investigative opportunities available to the class.