2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 4:30 PM


RATAJESKI, Kent, Department of Geosciences, University of West Georgia, 1601 Maple Street, Carrollton, GA 30118 and ASH, Jason M., Department of Geology, University of Kansas, Lindley Hall, 1475 Jayhawk Boulevard, Lawrence, KS 66045, kratajes@westga.edu

Cyberinformatic databases, such as those affiliated with the EarthChem project (GEOROC, NAVDAT, and PetDB) present new opportunities for teaching and learning in the geosciences beyond the traditional lecture/lab format. Besides allowing educators to rapidly produce customized datasets for a variety of teaching purposes, when used by the students themselves, the databases promote a wider understanding of the scale and diversity of natural materials and systems, allow for discovery-based learning, and require reasoned decisions regarding the quality, management, analysis, and interpretation of data.

A digital resource collection (http://serc.carleton.edu/research_education/cyberinfrastructure/index.html) has been created and housed at the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carleton College to support the use of online databases in various geoscience courses, including igneous petrology, volcanology, isotope geochemistry, tectonics, and historical geology. The exercises highlighted in the collection are designed to complement or replace traditional class lectures, and each is accompanied by a “Teaching Notes” page for instructors which provides additional details about the target audience, required skills, goals and objectives, and evaluation. By working through the exercises, students emulate the scientific process by gathering data, manipulating complex datasets, formulating and testing hypotheses, and making reasoned conclusions. Sample topics include: compositional diversity in volcanic suites, crystallization-differentiation of basaltic magma, igneous rocks and plate tectonics, volcanic landforms and magma composition, Sr isotopic compositions of mafic volcanic rocks in the western U.S., and Cenozoic volcanic history of the western U.S. The exercises vary in the amount of detail provided, from highly structured step-by-step instructions with hints and worked examples, to more open-ended study questions ideal for initiating and framing group discussion. Some exercises are designed as exemplars and contain answer keys, while others do not provide answers. All are ready for download and student use.