NAGT > Sections > New England Section > Session Descriptions

Session Descriptions

Session 1 - 10:00 to 10:15 am

S1A. Planet Earth: Hands-On Earth Science Online
Richard Yuretich, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Online courses for the professional development of science teachers need to incorporate the elements of inquiry collaborative learning and constructivism that characterize successful face-to-face courses. Planet Earth is a content-rich course in Earth Systems Science that is offered through the Science Education Online program at the University of Massachusetts. Through the process of structured engagement the course participants explore a variety of topics through hands-on experiments discussion and reflection. In addition they are engaged in a collaborative extended-duration experiment that involves establishing hypotheses designing an experimental plan to test these and reporting the results as a scientific team. Teachers also develop a lesson plan or other curriculum component based upon the investigations in the course. Assessment results indicate that teachers in this course achieved significant gains in content knowledge on a par with those in a face-to-face workshop on the same topics. This session will give an overview of the content and the techniques for translating hands-on learning into the online environment and provide an opportunity for participants to discuss the applications of teaching geosciences online. This session is also appropriate for earth science teachers interested in an introduction to on-line professional development opportunities.

S1B. Reducing Misconceptions in Introductory Geology by Using Lecture Tutorials
Karen M. Kortz, Community College of Rhode Island, Lincoln, RI
Daniel P. Murray, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
Jessica J. Smay, San Jose City College, San Jose, CA
Students commonly leave introductory geoscience courses with their misconceptions still intact. This workshop will discuss several classroom techniques (focusing on Lecture Tutorials but also including jigsaws conceptests and think-pair-share) that instructors can use during lecture to make their classroom more interactive. Lecture Tutorials are 10-15 minute interactive worksheets that students complete in small groups in class after a short introductory lecture. We wrote Lecture Tutorial worksheets to increase student learning by engaging the students to think about their misconceptions and guiding the students to a more scientific way of thinking. Lecture Tutorials are short and straightforward and therefore are relatively easy for instructors to implement in their course without a dramatic redesign. Our research shows that Lecture Tutorials increase student learning in the classroom more than just lecture alone. In addition students feel that the Lecture Tutorials are an important and useful part of their learning experience. During the workshop we will: 1) present Lecture Tutorials and other classroom techniques designed to make a lecture more interactive; 2) demonstrate how to use them in the classroom; and 3) provide examples that are ready to be implemented in the classroom. We will also briefly describe an ongoing evaluation of their impact on the classroom.

Session 2 - 10:30 to 11:45 am

S2A. Dinosaurs, Dunes, & Drifting Continents: The Geology of the Connecticut River Valley
Richard D. Little, Greenfield Community College, Greenfield, MA
The Connecticut River Valley region is the best place in the world to study geology. There are so many spectacular, diverse geologic events preserved in our rocks and landscape which can be rather easily seen and appreciated with just a little geologic training. This program will be an introduction to our wonderful geologic heritage. Samples of the unique armored mud balls will be available for study. Armored mud balls have only been found in the rock record from about 10 other places in the world, mostly beach deposits. The Connecticut Valley armored mud balls are the only ones definitely stream-formed, and are perhaps the only one available as samples. Books and videos by the presenter will be available for purchase. Visit for more information.

S2B. Modeling of the Seafloor: 3-D Model Enhanced By Technology
Thomas Vaughn, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Understanding of seafloor features can be enhanced by the construction of a 3-D model of the ocean floor supplemented by free streaming video. This workshop builds on the teaching of plate tectonics and relates the marine province of the seafloor to the overarching plate tectonic theory. Partcipants create a model of the seafloor consisting of 8 transits across a theoretical ocean basin. The video places the knowledge gained into the underpinnings of the Theory of Plate Tectonics.

Session 3 - 9:00 to 11:45 am

S3. Interpreting Connecticut's Sedimentary Rocks from Core Samples
Peter A. Drzewiecki, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT
Michael Wizevich, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT
Sedimentary rocks are the archives of earth history. They hold information about ancient depositional environments, climate, tectonics, and life. Sedimentary rocks are typically highly weathered or buried beneath the earth's surface in Connecticut. One way geologists examine buried rocks is by drilling cores—long cylindrical samples of rock that go down thousands of feet into the ground. Numerous cores were collected in the sedimentary rocks beneath Hartford associated with the construction of the Park River Tunnel. These cores are available from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection for examination.

This workshop will give participants an opportunity to examine and interpret selected cores from the Portland Formation that were deposited during the Jurassic Period approximately 200 million years ago. Emphasis will be placed on how to describe cores and what information can be obtained from them. Participants will learn how to collect data on rock types, grain size, and sedimentary structures. These data will be used to interpret the depositional environment in which the rocks were deposited. Changes in these environments over the length of the core reflect changes in climate and tectonics that occurred in Connecticut during the Jurassic.

The workshop will begin with a brief introduction about how cores are collected, prepared, and interpreted. This introduction will also include a description of how geologists interpret ancient environments from the rock record. The presentation will be followed by an examination and interpretation of cores representing several different depositional environments, and a discussion of how cores and core data can be used in the classroom.

An associated field trip will be offered in the afternoon for participants who would like to see Jurassic rocks of Connecticut in outcrops.

Session 4 - 9:00 to 11:45 am

S4. How Old Is It? Using Authentic Microfossil Data from Deep-Sea Cores
Mark Leckie, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
The initial 'School of Rock' was a sea-going, hands-on discovery expedition that connected scientists and educators with one of the largest, yet largely untapped, geoscience databases available. The expedition was sponsored by the Joint Oceanographic Institutions (JOI) in alliance with Texas A&M University and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, who jointly operate and staff the research drilling vessel JOIDES Resolution. Since the maiden voyage of School of Rock, a number of 1-day, 3-day, and 7-day land-based teacher workshops have engaged educators in the use of authentic scientific ocean drilling data for teaching across the STEM disciplines.

Each 'School of Rock' brings together a small but diverse group of formal and informal educators for an intensive period of active learning. Its focused inquiry is intended to engage and expose educators to the wealth of data collected and discoveries made over nearly four decades of scientific ocean drilling. The educators discover for themselves how accessible and applicable these data-rich results are to the Earth systems science curricula they teach in the classroom and present in museum displays.

This half-day workshop will introduce educators to an important facet of scientific ocean drilling: biostratigraphy and the use of marine microfossils to establish the relative age of a sedimentary sequence. In many places around the world ocean, the hard parts of marine plankton are the dominant sedimentary particles that accumulate on the deep seafloor. In this activity, authentic microfossil data will be analyzed and discussed, including the nature of microfossil distribution in a cored sequence and the implications for paleoenvironment and plankton evolution. Age data will then be used to calculate rates of sediment accumulation and to investigate the geologic history of a deep-sea drilling site. Making science accessible is the overarching goal of this activity, which features elements of geology, biology, and math.

Session 5 - 9:00 to 11:45 am

S5. All Shook Up: Teaching About Earthquakes
Anita Honkonen, 2005 Outstanding Earth Science Teacher (OESTA), Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School, Sudbury, MA
Using a simple model of a building wall participants will experiment with adding compressional force to an unreinforced building and then a reinforced building. The goals will be using structural elements such as shear walls and cables (simulated with twine) to construct the strongest possible building and to with minimal additions construct a "strong enough" building. This activity is interdisciplinary connecting science with technology. It is from the "Seismic Sleuths" curriculum published by the AGU and FEMA and has been modified and used by the presenter with 9th grade students at all levels. To support this activity images of actual earthquake damaged buildings will be examined and analyzed. Following on the theme of earthquake damage the second portion of this workshop will be another "Seismic Sleuths" activity that uses reported Mercalli intensities to map out damage patterns using isoseismal lines. This activity can be an introduction to the use of isolines in finding patterns or in the reinforcing of that skill if it has been taught in a weather unit. Both activities are ones that students enjoy because they are participating collaboratively and are active. It is important for students to understand the impact that earthquakes have on society this activity addresses that need. This workshop will also introduce participants to various earthquake activities on the Internet, with a focus on earthquakes in New England.

Afternoon Field Trips

F1. Jurassic Park IV: A Field Trip into Connecticut's Geological Past
Michael Wizevich, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT
Peter A. Drzewiecki, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT
Central Connecticut is underlain by sedimentary and volcanic rocks which provide clues to the state's geologic history during the early Jurassic Period. The rock types and features within them (such as sedimentary structures) that are preserved in central Connecticut tell a story of active tectonic faulting major volcanic eruptions and fluctuating climate in a landscape that developed during the breaking apart of the supercontinent Pangaea and the initial creation of the Atlantic Ocean. These geological events will be placed into the overall context of Connecticut geological history. After an initial overview of central Connecticut geologic history, this field trip will take participants to locations in the East Berlin Formation Portland Formation and Hamden Basalt that provide a glimpse into the diversity of geological phenomena that occurred in Connecticut during Jurassic time. Participants will have an opportunity to examine and interpret rocks in easily accessible locations. At each location they will be given an opportunity to collect data and use it to interpret major tectonic events climate cycles and depositional environments. Participants will be provided with ways of integrating outcrop examination and interpretation into their curriculum. An associated workshop will be offered in the morning for participants who would like to study drill core samples of Jurassic rocks taken from the subsurface of Connecticut

F2. Step Onto the Early Jurassic: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs
Christine Witkowski, Dinosaur State Park, Rocky Hill, CT
Margaret Enkler, Dinosaur State Park, Rocky Hill, CT
Step onto one of the largest dinosaur trackways in North America at Dinosaur State Park. Study the dinosaur tracks up close, examine outcrops of sedimentary and igneous rocks typical of Central Connecticut bedrock, and discuss evidence for climate cycles and geologic processes during the Early Jurassic when the tracks were made. Limited to 25 participants.

F3. The Shaping of Connecticut: Bedrock, Glaciers & Coastal Processes
Ralph Lewis, University of Connecticut, Avery Point, CT
Examine evidence of the geologic forces that have shaped Connecticut through time in a field trip to Rocky Neck State Park. Igneous and metamorphic rock outcrops at Rocky Neck illustrate tectonic processes that assembled Connecticut. Abundant glacial features and deposits show how glaciation modified Connecticut's landscape, and the low-energy shoreline provides an opportunity to examine ongoing coastal processes in a unique setting.

F4. Lithologies and structures in the Bolton syncline, Bolton Notch area, Connecticut
Mark D. Busa, Middlesex Community College, Middletown, CT
The Bolton syncline in eastern Connecticut is a tightly overturned package of Siluro-Devonian metasedimentary rocks in the Bronson Hill terrane. At Bolton Notch, the syncline overlies Ordovician metasediments and metavolcanics, beautifully exposed in the old Hartford-Providence railbed. West of Bolton Notch, the overturned side of the syncline is structurally overlain on the by the Ordovician Glastonbury Gneiss. Various structures can be seen at the outcrops including folds, lineations, faults, and veins and lenses of pegmatite. Centimeter-sized staurolite porphyroblasts and pea-sized garnet porphyroblasts are present in the pelitic schists of the Littleton Formation and locally in the Clough Quartzite. The large size of the staurolite porphyroblasts allows for detailed studies of their inclusion trails in thin section. The orientation of the long dimension of staurolite porphyroblasts and the internal morphology of their inclusion trails have been used to interpret the structural and metamorphic history of syncline, which is controversial, depending whether or not one interprets the inclusion trails as being due to porphyroblast rotation (Busa & Gray 1992ab, 2006) or not (Bell et al. 1997, Hickey & Bell 1999). This field trip provides attendee's excellent exposure to classic amphibolite-grade metamorphosed sedimentary rocks including pelitic schists, calc-silicate gneisses, quartzites, and various megascopic structures. The rocks observed on this field trip are regionally important in that the metamorphism and structures in these rocks have been mapped and studied in adjacent Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Field trip attendees beware of steep ledges, wet ground, and poison ivy.