Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 1:20 PM-5:20 PM
STRATIGRAPHY AND INQUIRY-BASED EARTH SCIENCE EDUCATION AT THE OAKES QUARRY, FAIRBORN, OH
Fun, education and research are the goals of the new Oakes Quarry Park in Fairborn, OH. With an 8-meter highwall, fossil-rich limestone and various spoil piles for collecting, the geology park offers many opportunities to learn about Ohio geology and concepts in stratigraphy and geologic time. To improve the educational viability of the newly formed park, an inquiry-based high school curriculum in geologic time was developed, culminating in a fieldtrip to the park. Inquiry-based lessons have been shown to enhance student understanding of and attitudes towards science by addressing different learning styles and engaging students in active learning. Many of the lessons in this curriculum utilize sample kits of rocks from the quarry, and include inquiry-based activities and group discussions focusing on relative and absolute dating, correlation, fossils and the geologic time scale. All of the lessons involve aspects of doing science, from making observations to making a hypothesis about the geology at the quarry and designing a study to test that hypothesis. To facilitate general understanding of the geology at the park, a large display of the strata at the quarry is being designed that will allow students and visitors to examine and study the stratigraphy without getting dangerously close to crumbling portions of the highwall. The display consists of large blocks of rock representing the various strata laid out in stratigraphic order. Interpretive signs and park brochures will describe each block in terms understandable to both geologists and non-geologists. The curriculum was piloted in an introductory geology course for pre-service teachers at Wright State University. Preliminary results indicate that the majority of the students benefited from the inquiry-based activities. Assessment of pre-lesson journals, student worksheets and exams indicates that student understanding of geologic time and local geology improved. Also, most of the students indicated on curriculum-evaluation surveys that they enjoyed the activities and preferred them to traditional lecture.