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9 January 2017
Remember a couple of months ago when Google Earth Timelapse got updated? I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at it back then, but I’ve taken it for a spin since then and – being a volcanologist – decided to look at volcanoes. And it turned out to be a lot of fun.
13 February 2015
No, that’s not a typo – it’s the topic of a discussion I prompted on Twitter a few weeks ago and then immediately forgot to post about. Fortunately, through the wonder of Storify, I can recap it for everyone. The backstory is that I had a request from a reader for movies he could show that featured geologically interesting places, but weren’t necessarily about geology or disasters. He also requested that they be fairly popular (things that had done well at the box office and might be expected to have been seen by a wide audience) and that they be things that intro students would recognize, either because they were recent or widely re-watched.
3 January 2014
A couple of weeks ago was my (gasp) six-year “blogiversary”, which I always forget about. But the end of one year and the beginning of a new one always seems to call for more introspective posts, and for my first post of the new year I thought I’d write about the main reason I started this blog: graduate school.
22 November 2013
Doubtless those of you who are interested in science careers have seen the many offended blog posts prompted by that fairly ill-considered Forbes article about how professors/academics have the most laid-back jobs because they only teach one or two classes a semester. After getting my hysterical laughter under control, I started thinking about all the comments where people describe how their typical academic day. I’m certainly not surprised by the long descriptions of everything that has to get done (and often doesn’t) during a professor’s day, but I did notice that there wasn’t much there from students.
19 June 2013
Last April, I had a discussion with some of my fellow graduate students in the geology department here at UB about teaching. One topic raised by those of us working with senior undergraduates was the skills our students would need to have by the time they left the department. We realized that many students take winding paths on the way to finishing a major for various reasons, including that they transferred from another school, they switched majors, or they are double-majoring and have time conflicts. A winding path isn’t necessarily detrimental as long as the students come out of the process with a solid geoscience skillset. But what should that skillset include?
6 May 2013
…and I finally, finally have a chance to breathe. It’s been a really busy couple of months for me – not just because I was teaching a lecture class for the first time, but because I was also getting ready for my technical thesis defense.
10 April 2013
A recent discussion that I’ve been having with my fellow grad students lately has been about this question: What are the core skills undergraduate geoscience students should have when they graduate?
Sometimes, because of crazy course schedules, majors joining the department late in their college career, etc etc., it seems like skillsets can be acquired haphazardly or in an order that doesn’t benefit the student. Those of us who teach as grad students sometimes find that it’s necessary to do more review than we’d expect when we’re dealing with a lab or a course. Although review isn’t a bad thing, it can take away time from the main course topics. As a teacher, my goal is to get my students to learn the course material as effectively and efficiently as possible – and make it stick.
So, like any good geoblogger, I’m going to ask for help ‘crowdsourcing’ the answer to this question. If you could put together a guide of core skills for geology students, what would be on it? What do you want them to know before they attempt specific classes? What should they know by the time they graduate to be well-grounded in the field?
11 January 2013
This semester, as part of an attempt to keep myself funded through the end of my PhD (always an uphill battle), I’m going to be teaching a smallish section of our introductory environmental science course. And the main topic is…deep breath…climate change! Not being an expert on climate change, this has me perusing background information to get ready for the content, but also looking at techniques for teaching controversial environmental topics. And I’m looking for help!
10 March 2012
Between digging into fluid dynamics papers, figuring out stability fields for alteration minerals and generally dealing with being a grad student, I haven’t had a lot of time to post lately. (Plus I had to do my taxes this weekend…) But I did get great comments on the “Survival Geology” post, especially about using movies and TV to teach science, and I thought I’d run with some thoughts on those. …
2 December 2011
A few weeks ago, I helped co-teach a plate tectonics workshop with a fellow UB geo grad. The workshop was intended as sort of a continuing education credit for local middle school science teachers, and rather than talk at them the whole time, we decided to have the teachers try out some activities that they could adapt for their classes. Plate tectonics is a pretty broad topic, and we covered everything from the history and development of the idea to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Because we had so much to cover (it was a six-hour workshop), we did three activities – one about sea-floor spreading, one about viscosity (to go along with the volcanology bit where we talk about magma type controlling landform appearance) and one that tied seismology and subduction together.