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About Schoolyard Geology: How to Use This Site

The main purpose of this web site is to introduce teachers to the geologic features on their own schoolyard. We hope to open their eyes to the possibilities for teaching geology to students in a familiar, easily accessible, and personally relevant setting.

We have divided the site into three individual lessons:

Lesson 1 Mapping your Schoolyard
Practical experience in creating and using a map of your schoolyard. Also introduces an amazing resource of high resolution aerial photography available free on the web.

Lesson 2 Rock Stories: Describing Sedimentary Rocks
Learning how to describe rocks and use those descriptions to discover the geologic history of the rock.

Lesson 3 GeoSleuth Murder Mystery
Relates being a geologist to being a detective. Once trained, students explore their schoolyard searching for evidence of sequences of events just like geologists in the field. The site has images and explanations of features to look for on your schoolyard to introduce various topics in geology. Side-by-side comparisons of schoolyard and natural geologic features, along with activities for further exploration.

Teaching Sequence

The lessons are completely independent but can work together as an effective sequence.

The map exercises of Lesson 1 come first because teachers can refer to the schoolyard map throughout future exercises. The maps can be improved throughout the school year as students discover and describe additional features. Because of the fundamental role of maps throughout earth science, teachers might want to put lessons on maps at the beginning of the year or the beginning of the earth science unit.

During the mapping exercise, students will realize that there are geologic materials all over their schoolyard. Lesson 2 on Rock Stories gets them looking closer at these rocks. These exercises are designed to help students understand portions of the rock cycle -- especially sedimentary rocks because most concrete and asphalt are essentially man-made sedimentary rocks.

Lesson 3 is a resource of example geologic features that might have analogs in the schoolyard. It begins with a classroom activity that helps introduce students to the fundamentals of geologic thinking and the scientific method. The fun part is that it introduces the interpretation of sequences of rock layers through a murder mystery. Once students become comfortable with the idea that geologic concepts of time sequences and physical mechanisms are not restricted only to rocks, they can try out their investigative skills on the schoolyard. Teachers should browse the images shown in Lesson 3 and walk around their schoolyard looking for similar features. For example, you may be able to find evidence of fossils, glaciers, or even dinosaurs on your schoolyard. Well, actually, it's not real evidence. Instead, the web site illustrates features that you might find in a schoolyard that were formed by similar processes to actual geologic events. It also includes 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. We envision teachers using images from this section throughout their entire earth science unit.

Schoolyard Geology Home  •  Lesson 1  •  Lesson 2  •  Lesson 3  •  Downloads

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