September 21, 2016

Introducing students to geoheritage during Earth Science Week 2016

Posted by Laura Guertin

Yes, we still have some time before the annual celebration Earth Science Week is upon us, but this year, I’m taking advantage of the early Geological Society of America Annual Meeting and having students complete an exercise while I am away to help them learn about this year’s theme, Our Shared Geoheritage.

“Geoheritage is the collection of natural wonders, landforms, and resources that have formed over eons and come to this generation to manage, use, and conserve effectively. Geoheritage locations are valued for many reasons, including scientific, economic, ecological, educational, cultural, aesthetic, artistic, and recreational purposes.”  —  from Earth Science Week

Many of our students are not familiar with the term “geoheritage,” especially the students in our introductory-level courses. So I decided to provide students not only the above definition from the Earth Science Week website, but to have students read the Geological Society of America position statement from April 2012 on Geoheritage. If you are teaching geoscience majors, you may want to have them explore additional papers and the entire journal dedicated to Geoheritage. Earth Science Week provides us a wonderful opportunity to engage students with the “what” and “why” of geoheritage.

I’m pulling in my overarching course goal and secondary course objectives in the design of an assignment that connects Earth Science Week with the Earth Science Literacy Principles and finding/citing images with a Creative Commons license (see previous post on Teaching professional skills… using Creative Commons and Pubic Domain images). My introductory-level students in “Environment Earth” are going to be required to find nine images from the internet that are marked for Creative Commons or public domain use. Each image should match one of the nine Big Ideas of the Earth Science Literacy Principles and showcase the theme of geoheritage. For each image, students must describe what they see, the Big Idea represented, the connection to geoheritage, and then accurately cite the image with the correct license. Then, during Earth Science Week, we will share and discuss these images in class.

There are many different creative and clever ways each of us can engage students with Earth Science Week. I encourage you not to let this year and its unique theme go by without at least introducing students to the idea of geoheritage.


For more on Earth Science Week, please see my previous posts on Why you should plan now to participate (and help others participate) in #EarthScienceWeek and Make every week Earth Science Week!