Paper No. 50
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


WEST, Nancy W., Quarter Dome Consulting, 910 West Mulberry Street, Fort Collins, CO 80521 and OLDS, Shelley E., Education and Community Engagement, UNAVCO, 6350 Nautilus Dr, Boulder, CO 80301,

Data from the EarthScope’s Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) is used by middle, high school, and introductory geology students in a module exploring Yellowstone National Park. Specifically, students incorporate PBO’s high-precision GPS data with data on Yellowstone’s seismicity, heat flow, eruptive history, and cultural features such as roads and lodges to site a (fictitious) research station within the park.

This data-rich module, “Taking the Pulse of Yellowstone’s “Breathing” Volcano: Problem-Based Learning in America’s First National Park” begins by engaging students with images and videos of Yellowstone’s marvelous geology, flora, and fauna and leads into a preliminary assessment to help teachers tailor instruction to meet specific needs of their students. Students learn how scientists monitor volcanoes using the example of Mount Saint Helens. Then, in a jigsaw activity, they learn about volcanism’s role in shaping Yellowstone, overlay the locations of historical and recent earthquake epicenters, high heat flow, hydrothermal activity, and volcanic gas emissions. As a team, students analyze ground deformation as revealed by data from GPS stations graphing the vertical displacement across the region through time. LiDAR images provided by UNAVCO augment the data. With an understanding of volcano prediction and the multiple threads of data, student teams select and present their recommendation for a research station site that would be safe from geological hazards, be out of sight of visitors, and yet be easily accessible. Suggestions for summative assessment conclude the module.

All data is available in KML for spatial comparison using Google Earth. The module invites students to use Google Earth to explore the data; however, students without Internet access or computers can complete the activity using paper maps and pencils. The module is available via UNAVCO and SERC websites. Search Google using: “Taking the Pulse of Yellowstone's 'Breathing' Volcano”.