The Pale Blue Dot: Utilizing Real World Globes in High School and Undergraduate Oceanography Classrooms

August 3, 2017

Abstract for poster presentation at AGU meeting in New Orleans, Dec 2017

Geoscience classrooms have benefitted greatly from the use of interactive, dry-erasable globes to supplement instruction on topics that require three-dimensional visualization, such as seismic wave propagation and the large-scale movements of tectonic plates. Indeed, research by Bamford (2013) demonstrates that using three-dimensional visualization to illustrate complex processes enhances student comprehension. While some geoscience courses tend to bake-in lessons on visualization, other disciplines of earth science that require three-dimensional visualization, such as oceanography, tend to rely on students’ prior spatial abilities. In addition to spatial intelligence, education on the three-dimensional structure of the ocean requires knowledge of the external processes govern the behavior of the ocean, as well as the vertical and lateral distribution of water properties around the globe. Presented here are two oceanographic activities that utilize RealWorldGlobes’ dry-erase globes to supplement traditional oceanography lessons on thermohaline and surface ocean circulation. While simultaneously promoting basic plotting techniques, mathematical calculations, and unit conversions, these activities touch on the processes that govern global ocean circulation, the principles of radiocarbon dating, and the various patterns exhibited by surface ocean currents. These activities challenge students to recognize inherent patterns within their data and synthesize explanations for their occurrence. Spatial visualization and critical thinking are integral to any geoscience education, and the combination of these abilities with engaging hands-on activities has the potential to greatly enhance oceanography education in both secondary and postsecondary settings.

View oceanography lesson activity and answer key:
Activity One: Radiocarbon by Ryan H. Glaubke
Activity One: Radiocarbon Answer Key