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Each student is assigned a sphere: Lithosphere, Atmosphere, or Biosphere. They will be responsible for constructing a timeline documenting events in the evolution of that sphere from 4.5 to 1.0 Gya. They are then given a set of cards, each with a photo of a rock/mineral from that time period, a summary of the research done on it and the conclusions various researchers have reached about that rock/mineral, and references. Students need to use the rocks to assemble their timeline. After each student is done, each student shares their timelines with the group, fills in the timelines for the three other spheres, and draws conclusions about how the three spheres interacted with each other as they evolved. Teaching Tips Adaptations that allow this activity to be successful in an online environment In the classroom, I use groups and hang a giant map of the world on the wall; then tape the rock cards as posters near the map, connecting them by string to the place the rocks were found. This doesn't work as well online! But the cards can easily be distributed electronically. Elements of this activity that are most effective Having students be responsible for teaching the rest of the class about the evolution of their spheres in quite effective - as teachers, they're forced to articulate the timeline in a way that they wouldn't have to on paper. Recommendations for other faculty adapting this activity to their own course:
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