GEO-204 Problems in Earth History (4 credit) 

Professor Dawn Cardace

The University of Rhode Island, Dept. of Geosciences

Office: CBLS491 Mailbox: Woodward 317 Office: 401-874-9384

Brief Course Description.
Geological problem solving, emphasizing questions in Earth history. Time, plate movements, ancient environments, climates, and the fossil record introduced in a historical context. (Lec. 3, Lab 2).  Pre: GEO 103 or equivalent or permission of instructor. (A1) (B1).

Learning Outcomes.
At the end of this course, you will be able to:
1. Identify common minerals, rock types, fossils, and understand how to identify unknowns.
2. Work more proficiently in Excel and Powerpoint.
3. Make inferences from geological data to determine whether scientific conclusions are reasonable.
4. Create effective written work based on professional needs and current research in Earth History, supplemented with reflective commentary.
5. Comment critically about fundamental concepts in geology and the geologic history of Earth. Examples of fundamental concepts are: (a) Earth is 4.6 billion years old, (b) Earth is continually changing, (c) life evolves on a dynamic Earth and continuously modifies Earth, and (d) the nature of science (specifically geology) relies on evidence, analysis, interpretation, communication, and revision.

Labs are an important component of this course and include mineral, rock, and fossil identification practice, sequential focus on life in different geologic eras, problem-solving with cladograms, interactions with professional scientists (via zoom), and building scientific posters to share information. Since posters are a key genre in science communication, learners create a practice poster during a two-week lab exercise and create a more formal poster presenting results of an original investigation done during the semester.

Here are some examples of GEO204 practice posters with a theme of ‘Mesozoic Reptiles.’




To practice the process of science and strengthen understanding of fundamental concepts in geosciences, GEO204 involves an original research study with analysis and interpretation of survey data related to Earth History literacy. Findings are shared through the poster, mini-podcast, and written data report forms of communication. Selected posters (original student projects from Fall 2020) reporting on aspects of geoscience literacy are collected here. Feel free to contact Professor Cardace with questions or comments. Join us next fall!