The main goal of this lesson is to get students familiar with the idea that geology is something tangible and that it affects the world around them. They should be inspired to ask questions about how geologic processes shaped the world around them and make observations to answer those questions. All of this on their schoolyard.
During the introductory activity, students learn that geology is a lot like detective work. Geologists infer the sequence and timing of events by collecting evidence and making observations, just like a detective. Students first make observations of a murder mystery. Then, they try to use simple principles to develop a story that is consistent with these observations. Many of the principles they use in the murder mystery are exactly the same as a geologist uses in determining the history of a landscape. Photographs relate the murder mystery to real geology.
Teachers can then take their students outside to explore their new found geologic interpretation skills. Because every schoolyard is slightly different, teachers will need to adapt this excursion to their own unique setting. The rest of the web site is a collection of example geologic features that might have analogs in the schoolyard. Teachers should browse the images and walk around their schoolyard looking for similar features. It also has links to background information and classroom activities about those features that serve as a jumping off point for teaching a wide variety of topics in earth science. A teacher could plan a single fifty minute field trip to the schoolyard to explore all the features, or use images from this section throughout their entire earth science unit.
Students relate geologic concepts to observations and processes that are familiar from the schoolyard.
|Materials||A schoolyard and some creativity.|
|Time Requirements||Varies. Most of these features can be integrated into other lessons as short 15 minute field trips to the schoolyard to introduce a unit covering a topic in geology. Each individual topic also includes a variety of activities for further exploration that can take 1-2 class periods each.|
|Science Standards||Varies. Click on each feature to find out which standards it addresses.|
|Opening Activity|| GeoSleuth Murder Mystery
To get students familiar with the idea that geology is something tangible, try out this activity. It introduces a series of fundamental geological ideas (geologic time including superposition & cross-cutting relations, observations versus interpretations, physical processes, and more). And, it's a lot of fun!
Click here for instructions and a short teacher's guide on this activity.
|Instructions|| Before class, review the example schoolyard features shown in the table below. Then, go exploring your schoolyard for interesting features on your schoolyard. They might be quite similar to our examples, or they might be completely different. Every crack in the sidewalk can be a teachable moment because every crack is evidence of some physical process, so be creative! Note that many of the example pages have related classroom activities that you may want to consider doing before or after your field trip.
Take your students on a field trip to the schoolyard. The trip may take half a class period or much longer.
On a class trip out on to schoolyard, look for features like these. (Click on each image for a schoolyard example and one of a geologist in action.)
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