North-Central Section - 47th Annual Meeting (2-3 May 2013)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


BARNEY, Jeffrey A., Mallinson Institutute for Science Education, Western Michigan University, 6575 N 44th St, Augusta, MI 49012,

Teaching science content to K-12 students can be a struggle, especially when student engagement with lesson material is a problem. One way teachers can help engage students is to use hands-on activities. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), teachers who regularly conduct hands-on activities in their classrooms report that their students out perform their peers by more than 40% of a grade level in science. At Western Michigan University we have developed a geology lesson using rock core samples to teach rock characteristics that are somewhat counterintuitive: porosity and permeability. This activity brings rock core samples and rock coring tools into the classroom for students to examine. Students study different types of sedimentary rocks and learn how layers of these rocks formed as the Great Lakes Basin experienced repeated cycles of flooding and evaporation hundreds of millions of years ago. Students also learn how petroleum forms and how oil and gas are found in the pore spaces of some types of rocks. Finally, the students are shown a variety of sedimentary rock cores and are tasked with determining which core would represent the most likely “host rock” for petroleum. The students accomplish this by using hand operated air pumps to test the porosity and permeability of the rocks by trying to force air through the core samples. The students use the results of this activity to evaluate a set of hypothetical well sites, and then vote to decide which well site should be developed. This activity teaches identification and formation of common sedimentary rocks and the Paleozoic history of the Great Lakes Basin.