Earth Science Outside -y2018-2019 – Via SLDistrict

Homework 4 – Due March 29, 2019 (DRAFT, expect clarifications)

Teachers as Earth Scientists

Please do this on your own AND with a buddy. Meaning… do not do this as a cohort because someone may inadvertently steal your education! However, Warm Springs Park walkabout is an interesting neighborhood and, although safe, homeless camps have existed across Victory Road. I think you’ll feel more confident if you have a buddy… but fight for your education! Don’t let whomever you are with “give you the answers.”


Gain confidence! If you can see patterns, you can teach Earth science. See patterns in bedrock at Warm Spring Park, on your own. Then realize you know enough more than your students that you can go outside and teach the JOY of Earth Science Outside.


Embrace uncertainty. Please see this as an Earth scientist would… an adventure with clues about cause and effect. Look for evidence versus “the answers.” Think “why” questions. For example: why is the valley so flat? Celebrate your curiosity. Don’t expect to “see it all.” Just see enough to realize you’re good enough at seeing patterns of landforms (topography) and good enough at seeing patterns in bedrock. That’s good enough to turn kids on to Earth science.


Step 1. Plan for an hour at the park even though the path is less than a mile around the park. See map. (to be added).

Step 2. Park in the parking area west of the old Wasatch Plunge. In the parking lot, Breathe!

Step 3. Practice mindful curiosity. Remind yourself of patterns that matter: patterns of topography and patterns of Earth materials. Be deliberate in your recognition of patterns.

For example, remember your wooden blocks, the model of extensional tectonics. The warm springs come to the surface here because of the Warm Springs Fault, a section of the Wasatch Fault Zone. How could the blocks represent the topography here?

Practice seeing patterns of Earth materials. Recognize sediments (loose materials all of which came from bedrock) versus bedrock (firm, coherent, continuously attached to Earth’s crust).

Step 4. Resist jumping to conclusions. In the parking lot, take a few images related to Earth science. Write notes to remind yourself where and why you took  your images. Continue to have an open mind. Embrace uncertainty. Your notes might read: Image 1: Taken from Warm Springs Park parking lot looking northeast. I am curious about the big black and gray bounders that form the wall. I wonder how they got here and where they came from.

Step 5. Walk into the park and follow the sidewalk counterclockwise, meaning, walk past the (non-functional) rest rooms. Walk along the higher branch of the sidewalk. Continue noticing patterns of topography and Earth materials. Practice curiosity.

Step 5 continued. As you walk toward the crest of the sidewalk path, stop where you see into the mining operations (shown in the images above). Take your own images. What patterns do you see? Besides wondering what  “you’re meant to see” what are you curious about? For example, are you curious how this all came to be? Do you see contrasts in the bedrock? Do you see contrasts in topography? If your students expressed interest could you be ready to tie their observations to tectonics, Earth materials, role of water in surface processes, or geologic history of Salt Lake County? Don’t lose confidence. You don’t need all the “answers” just the ability to channel curiosity.

Clues: patterns of topography include high versus low (steep topography of the hill, versus flat of the valley). Bedrock contrasts include tan bedrock at the top of the hills and gray bedrock in the mined area. Take a couple images and exercise curiosity. What is there to figure out here? How about relative age?

Step 6. Continue walking the path. Pass the pools of warm springs. They are warm, not hot, and safe to touch. Admire the colors and the life forms. You don’t need to embrace the smells! but please wonder about them. Take an image or two.

Step 7. Return to your vehicle. Look again at the north area of the parking lot with the wall of black/gray boulders. Now, can you imagine where they came from?  Have you wondered why it is so steep that there’s a wall? Of course there could be more than one reason. Embrace uncertainty.

Step 8. Print out at least two of your images that you think show patterns of topography or patterns of Earth materials.

BRING those two hard copy images, or more, to Session 5.

Recognize you’ve been a teacher-Earth scientist today. Congratulations. I hope you haven’t “figured it all out” because embracing uncertainty and entertaining multiple hypotheses are part of being a scientist.

EXPECT considerable discussion as part of Session 5.