A guided inquiry exercise has been developed to help teach the geology of the U.S. This exercise is intended for use early in the school term when undergraduate students have little background knowledge of geology. Before beginning, students should be introduced to rock types and have a basic understanding of geologic time. This exercise uses three maps: the U.S. Geological Survey's "A Tapestry of Time and Terrain" and "Landforms of the Conterminous United States" maps, and a geologic map of the United States. Using these maps, groups of 3 to 5 students are asked to identify between 8 and 12 geologic provinces based on topography, the age of rocks, and rock types. Each student is given a blank outline map of the contiguous U.S. and each group is given a set of the three maps and colored pencils; as a group, students work to define regions in the U.S. with similar geology. A goal of 8 to 12 geologic provinces is given to help establish the level of detail being asked of students. One member of each group is asked to present their group's findings to the class, describing their geologic provinces and the reasoning behind their choices.
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A guided inquiry approach to learning the geology of the U.S