2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
Paper No. 97-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM


PHIPPS, Molly, Science Museum of Minnesota, 120 W. Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55102, mphipps@smm.org, KIRKBY, Kent, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, 310 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0219, and MURPHY, Anthony P., Education Department, St. Catherine University, 2004 Randolph Street, St. Paul, MN 55105

Science and natural history museums have a vast array of geologic resources that could be used to augment college-level geoscience courses yet they are often underutilized. Museums often have stunning mineral collections, fossils, and hands-on interactive exhibits that can demonstrate geological principles in a way that traditional labs and field trips cannot. Many museums have extensive collections of weather-related interactives that allow students to experiment with convection, cloud formation, weather fronts, etc. with equipment that would be prohibitively expensive for a geosciences department to maintain. A growing group of museums have Science on a Sphere units (large spherical display systems) that display global data that can be used to make global processes more understandable. Many museums have extensive fossil collections that can be used to better understand morphology and evolutionary processes. With all these great resources that are designed to be easy to understand and easy to use, why aren’t more geoscience instructors using museums?

Paradoxically, the answer is related to why most people like museums: they’re designed to simplify concepts and make them easy to understand. So, without some sort of mediation by a professor, museums just are not intellectually challenging enough to justify college-level learning. We will share two different models for using The Science Museum of Minnesota for college-level learning. Dr. Murphy, who teaches at a small liberal-arts college, accompanies his students to the museum and guides them through complex visualizations on the Museum’s Science on a Sphere. Dr. Kirkby, who teaches at a large land-grant university, developed a self-guided field trip that takes advantage of the museum’s extensive Cretaceous fossil collection. Dr. Phipps works at the museum and has been working to increase the connections between colleges and the museum by evaluating the college student visits and working to make the museum more accessible to both instructor lead and self-guided college student field trips.

2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
General Information for this Meeting


Session No. 97--Booth# 56
Geoscience Education (Posters) II
Minneapolis Convention Center: Hall C
9:00 AM-6:00 PM, Monday, 10 October 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 253

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