Geology Virtual Field Trips - Suggested Plan for Students

The geology of New England is rich in history. Each rock is a piece of a very old and complicated story of how the Earth’s continents have shifted radically. Within the rocks are clues of how pieces of continents smashed into each other, how giant mountain ranges rose up and were ground down, how volcanoes erupted as oceans opened up. While the history is grand and interesting, much of it is also hidden from view. New England is covered in soil, grass, forest, houses, roads, etc. which make it rare indeed to find a good exposed rock “outcropping”.

How can we begin to understand how all of these pieces fit together? The best strategy is to take time to travel around our area and find exposed rock outcroppings. Well, that would be a difficult (and expensive) thing for us to do. So we have created the next best thing: a series of “Virtual Field Trips” – you can explore each area from the comfort of your own home (or classroom).

The best way to explore these "Field Trips" is with rock samples that come from each location. If your teacher has provided you with those samples, then make sure to study the actual rocks. By carefully studying the rocks along with pictures of the areas where these rocks came from, you will hopefully (a) begin to understand the processes that formed these rocks, and (b) develop a good working “mental model” for how the Earth has changed over the last 600 million years or so.

1. Begin by studying the timeline at the top of the sidebar.

2. Each group will rotate through several of the Field Trips. For each of the assigned “Field Trips”:

Find the selection of rocks that goes along with this “Field Trip”. As you look through the pictures and read the text on the web page that accompanies this “Field Trip”, study the rocks that Mr. Goldner collected from this location. Make good observations of some of the rocks.

3. If you encounter terms or rock types that you are unfamiliar with, you are welcome to look through guidebooks or online sites to find out more information.
4. In your lab notebook, please copy down the questions and write down your answers.
5. Your answers must also have sketches as evidence - for example, if you observe specific features in an image on the website that helps justify your answer, sketch the parts of the picture that help your answer. In some cases your sketches might be "quick sketches" that just show essential details. Other times, your sketches might require much more detail to show texture, etc.

Example sketches (click to see larger):

A "quick sketch":

A more detailed sketch:

6. Make a detailed sketch of at least one of the rocks that came from this location.
7. At the end of each “Field Trip”, on a sheet of paper record:

            - List the things you learned from this “trip”.

            - List questions you have after taking this “trip”.

We will put these together to share with the class.