In the Trenches - July 2020

Unconventional Approaches for Unconventional Times

Volume 10, Number 3

In This Issue

This site provides web links that supplement the print articles as well as news and web resources. Members can follow the "Read more" links below to access full versions of the articles online. To receive the full edition of In the Trenches, join NAGT

FROM THE EDITOR: And Now for Something Completely Different

Editor in Chief REDINA FINCH, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL

Wow, these are certainly crazy times. We ended the semester with 8+ weeks of online teaching given by instructors who had little notice to students who had little preparation ... and we survived! Pat yourselves on the back!! Now we move on to the task of figuring out how the fall semester is going to go. There have been some amazing discussions at Teach-geo-online I encourage you to sign up to get these discussions in your mailbox. Then log in and learn — or share your insights. The 2020 Online Earth Educator's Rendezvous, July 13-17, is another great place to get ideas for fall. We've added sessions specifically related to teaching online. Registration is open at: Read more...

Western Kentucky University's Unconventional Approach to an Office of Sustainability

CATHERINE WALTERS (, Graduate Assistant, Office of Sustainability, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY. LESLIE A. NORTH (leslie.north@wku. edu), Associate Professor and Director of Sustainability, Office of Sustainability, Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY.

The purpose of the Western Kentucky University's (WKU) Office of Sustainability is to assist in decision-making and provide sustainability resources to the campus community, enable students to engage in environmental projects, and educate students, faculty, and staff on sustainability initiatives undertaken by the university. In contrast to sustainability offices which traditionally report to the facilities division of their university, in Academic Year 2019, the WKU Office of Sustainability became a part of the WKU Student Affairs Division, specifically the Division of Enrollment and Student Experience. This reporting structure allows it to spend time not only helping to facilitate sustainability programs on campus, but also building stronger connections to academic and student affairs units across the campus. Read more...

Preparing an Effective Geoscience Lesson: Strategies from an Early Career Geoscience Faculty Workshop

RACHEL BEANE ( is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Natural Science and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME. HEATHER MACDONALD ( is Chancellor Professor of Geology at the College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA. Both authors are NAGT Neil A Miner awardees

Focus your attention for a moment on a recent class lesson you prepared and taught. First, think back to the steps you took to prepare. Next, consider what you and the students did during the class. Reflect on the ways in which the lesson design contributed to students' learning, and on any changes you're considering for the next time you teach the lesson. Then, think about whether this most recent class was typical or atypical in the ways you prepared and taught. Read more...

Making Geoscience Careers Visible: Illuminating Pathways to Geoscience

KELSEY RUSSO-NIXON (, education generalist, and DONNA J CHARLEVOIX (, director, are affiliated with the Education and Community Engagement Directorate at UNAVCO in Boulder, CO.

If you were to ask the average college or community college student who geoscientists are and what they do, the responses are likely to be highly varied. Geoscientist is often not an aspirational career path and as a result it is sometimes challenging to help students see themselves as geoscientists. In addition, many students have the false impression that once you embark on a major you have a linear path to a career in that field. In reality, career pathways are highly non-linear; no single career pathway exists in geosciences or any STEM field (NAS, 2011). During three summer internships hosted by UNAVCO (an NSF-funded science facility), we provide a multi-faceted professional development program led by facility staff to both build skills and expose students to opportunities within geosciences. We developed the "Career Circle" as a fun, informal opportunity for student interns to meet geoscience professionals and learn about their varied career pathways. The goal of the Career Circle is for students to meet professionals working in various aspects of geoscience, learn about that professional's background and pathway, and have an open-ended discussion about their experience with geoscience. Over the five years we have conducted Career Circles as a weekly activity during our summer internship programs, this activity is consistently ranked as the most valuable part of their professional development experience. Read more...

M3G: Music as a Metaphor in Mining Geostatistics

STEINAR LØVE ELLEFMO ( and TORKJELL BREIVIK ( are affi liated with the Department of Geoscience and Petroleum at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, where Ellefmo is an associate professor and Breivik is chief engineer. MICAH NEHRING ( and JULIE BALLANTYNE ( are affi liated with University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, where Nehring is a lecturer in the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering and Ballantyne is an associate professor in the School of Music.

Our society needs mining. Mined minerals and metals are constituents in everything from toothpaste, computers, and cars to mobile phones and wine bottles. The work towards replacing petroleum-based energy production with renewable energy and e-mobility requires significant amounts of metals such as copper, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements. Mining is a complex engineering endeavor where one must handle uncertainties linked to social, legal, ecological, technical and geological factors. To quantify environmental or geological uncertainties and the associated risks, geologists and mining engineers use geostatistics. Estimating and assessing value of "grade in the ground" is fundamental to any mining project. Teaching mining engineering students how to use geostatistics to understand the viability of a potential mine is therefore important.
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