GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 156-10
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


URBAN, Michael J., Department of Professional Education, Bemidji State University, 1500 Birchmont Dr. NE, Bemidji, MN 56601,

Google Earth and GeoMapApp are two visualization tools that can be used in science classes to investigate plate tectonics and associated features. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) provides KML datasets for Google Earth, which can be incorporated into simple or integrated lessons related to earthquakes, faults, plate tectonics, volcanism and more. By itself Google Earth provides a means to visually examine the geologic context of features and regions, but when united with layers of data a more comprehensive examination of interrelationships is possible. GeoMapApp provides access to global elevation data and enables users to construct vertical profiles of the features of the Earth. GeoMapApp may be used along with Google Earth to provide a better visual understanding of plate tectonics. Both tools are user-friendly and appropriate for use in college and K-12 science classrooms.

A pilot investigation initiated with students taking an undergraduate integrated science course for secondary science teaching licensure provided findings about the value of utilizing Google Earth with USGS data layers in conjunction with GeoMapApp for understanding plate tectonics and associated features and phenomena through visual analysis. Participants completed an activity designed to teach about earthquakes, plate tectonic features (e.g., trenches, mountains, island arcs, faults, etc.), and geography (i.e., names and locations). The relevance and applicability of the software and data for use in K-12 classroom settings was also explored. The findings include survey data about student experiences, in addition to pre- and post-test scores. The activity will be shared and the classroom context and implementation will be described.