Dr. Heather Petcovic
GEOS 2900:
Earth Science for Elementary Educators II

Fall 2009

Course and Instructor Information

Course and Instructor Information

Course Description

This laboratory-based course is a continuation of GEOG 1900 and is specifically designed for prospective elementary teachers. The objectives of the course are to aid students in developing meaningful and functional understanding of key earth science concepts and their interrelations; to provide students with open-ended problems solving environments that facilitate insight in the nature of science as an intellectual activity; to explore alternated conceptions of scientific phenomena; to help students develop more positive attitudes about science and increase their confidence in their ability to do science.

Course Information

Course Section Room Instructor
TR 9:30-11:50 am Wood 1405 Petcovic

Instructor Information

Course instructor Dr. Heather Petcovic
Office: Wood 3138
Office Hours:

TR, 12:00-12:30 pm,
1405 or 1408 Wood Hall
Or by appointment

Email: heather.petcovic@wmich.edu
Phone: 269-387-5380

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Class Schedule





Introduction/Solar System

Earth Structure (1.1.1)/Tectonics (1.1.2)


Tectonics (1.1.2)

Volcanoes (1.2.1)


Earthquakes (1.2.2)

Unit 1 Exam


Minerals (2.1.1)

Rock Cycle (2.2.1)


Igneous Rocks (2.2.2)

Metamorphic Rocks (2.2.3)


Sedimentary Rocks (2.2.4)

Soil (2.3.1)


Unit 2 Exam


Wind, Water & Sand (3.1.1)


Beach Systems (3.1.2)

Glaciers (3.2.1)

11/2 River Systems (3.2.2) KNC Field Trip*

Groundwater 1 (3.2.3, Parts 1-2)

Unit 3 Exam


Fossils (4.1.1 and 4.1.2)

Relative Age Dating (4.2.1)

11/23 Absolute Age Dating (4.2.2) Thanksgiving Break
11/30 Earth History (4.3.1) Michigan Geology (4.3.2)
12/7 Group Presentations Group Presentations
12/14 Final Exam  

*Date of field trip subject to change due to weather

Important dates


Unit 1 Exam

September 24

Unit 2 Exam

October 20

Unit 3 Exam

November 12

Final Exam

Monday, December 14, 10:15 am - 12:15 pm

Project Deadlines:

Group project topic request form

October 1

Research paper and preliminary lesson plan

November 5

Group project presentations December 8 & 10

Final research paper, lesson plan, and handout

On the day of your presentation

Homework Schedule:

Introduction Read and Reflect

Sept 15

1.1 Read and Reflect

Sept 17

1.2 Read and Reflect

Sept 24

2.1 Read and Reflect

Oct 6

2.2 Read and Reflect Oct 13

2.3 Read and Reflect

Oct 20

3.1 Read and Reflect Oct 29
3.2 Read and Reflect Nov 12
4.2 Read and Reflect Nov 24
4.3 Read and Reflect Dec 3
All homework must be completed through E-Learning (Blackboard) and is due at 9:30 am on the day scheduled.

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View or download the current course syllabus.

Remember to purchase your course pack from the University Bookstore (at the corner of Howard and West Michigan)!

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In-Class Links

These are links to websites used in the in-class activities.

Activity Required website(s) Additional information
The Solar System Build a Solar System

The Nine (now Eight) Planets
NASA: Solar System Exploration
The Kuiper Belt
Teaching about the "new" solar system
A New Planet: Eris

1.1.1 Earth Structure none

The Earth's Layers

1.1.2 Tectonics What Drives the Plates? USGS: Understanding Plate Motion
1.2.1 Volcanoes Types of Lava
Types of Volcanoes
USGS: Learn About Volcanoes
Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program
1.2.2 Earthquakes none About Earthquakes
2.1.1 Minerals none Introduction to Mineral Identification
Smithsonian: Minerals and Crystals
2.2.1 Rock Cycle none The Rock Cycle
NSTA: The Rock Cycle
2.2.2 Igneous Rocks none Introduction to Rock Identification
USGS: Igneous Rocks
2.2.3 Metamorphic Rocks none Introduction to Rock Identification
USGS: Metamorphic Rocks
2.2.4 Weathering & Sedimentary Rocks none Introduction to Rock Identification
Weathering and Erosion
USGS: Sedimentary Rocks
2.3.1 Soil none Soil Texture Classification
Soil Characteristics
Soil Formation
3.1.1 Wind, Water & Sand

Sand Dunes

Eolian (wind-sculpted) Landscapes

3.1.1 Beach Systems none Wave Erosion
Coastal Management
3.2.1 Glaciers none All About Glaciers
3.2.2 River Systems none Dynamics of a River System
3.2.3 Groundwater none What is Groundwater?
Groundwater Contamination
4.1.1/4.1.2 Fossils none How Casts and Molds Form
Getting Into the Fossil Record

Stories from the Fossil Record

4.2.1 Relative Age none Telling Time Using Fossils
4.2.2 Absolute Age none Dating Rocks: Radioactive Decay
4.3.1 Earth History none (uses GEODE) Geologic Time Scale
Evolution 101
4.3.2 Michigan Geology see course pack Geologic Time Scale

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Group Project Information

These are links to websites that may be useful in working on the group project.

Links to sites discussing common earth science misconceptions:

Earth Science Misconceptions
--List of general earth science misconceptions at multiple grade levels, no references.

Earth Systems Science Misconceptions
--Student misconceptions across the earth sciences, K-12. Has links to references.

Bad Science and Bad Meteorology
-- Bad Science has examples of misconceptions in science textbooks and the popular press. Bad Meteorology is similar but specific to, well, meteorology.

Bad Astronomy
-- Similar to the two sites above, but this is a commercial site so watch out for the ads.

Ten Things You Thought You Knew about Sun-Earth Science
-- Misconceptions related to the earth and sun – for adults

Children's Misconceptions About Weather
-- A paper focused on children's ideas about topics related to the weather, water cycle, atmosphere, and global warming

Links to State and National Benchmarks:

Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations (K-7): Earth Science only; all science

Michigan Curriculum Framework (benchmarks)

MI Climb (clarifying language for Michigan Benchmarks)

Michigan Test for Teacher Certification in Elementary Science

National Science Education Standards: K-4, 5-8, 9-12

Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS national standards)

Links to Sites with K-8 Earth Science Lesson Plans:

DLESE (Digital Library for Earth Systems Education)
-- Database of activities, lessons, curricula, etc. related to earth science, searchable by topic and grade level.

Exploring the Environment
-- Problem-based lessons and activities, mostly for grades 5-12

USGS Science Resources for Primary Grades
-- Site sponsored by the US Geological Survey, with lessons for K-6

K-5 GeoSource
-- Lessons, resources, and professional development sponsored by the American Geological Institute

NASA for Educators
-- Materials and lessons developed by NASA, click on "educators," select by grade level

NOAA Education: Weather, and Oceans
-- The Weather site mostly has useful information about weather, which may be helpful to supplement lessons. The Oceans site has lesson plans mostly for grades 8-12.

VolcanoWorld Lesson Plans
-- Lessons related to volcanoes, links to other sites about volcanoes

Soil Science Education
-- Site sponsored by NASA, with information and lessons

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Last Updated September 4, 2009