Module / Title

Midterm Exam. . . after module 6 . . .
Final Exam . . . after module 15 & projects . . . see proctor


GEOL 422/522 -- Web Class -- Summer 2006


Lori Tapanila
Assistant: Diane Butler


Planetary Geology for Teachers is an upper level undergraduate or graduate level course for K-12 teachers and physical science majors who wish to continue their education in planetary science or to pursue a Master of Natural Science degree. We will use Earth analogues, remote sensing, and the latest results of human planetary exploration to better understand the origin and geology of the solar system. All planetary bodies, including planets, asteroids, moons, rings, comets and meteorites will be presented. Many topics will be covered, but the course will focus on planetary evolution and differentiation, exploration of the solar system, NASA planetary missions, volcanic activity, atmospheres, geology of our nearest neighbors (Moon, Mars and Venus), surficial processes, and plate tectonics.

The course comprises 17 modules of varying sizes and lengths which are designed to provide an internet classroom experience. Much of the course will involve readings from the text as in any typical classroom course; however, lectures will be replaced by internet tutorials and world wide web access to other geology, planetary and astronomy web sites. Map and image exercises, as well as exams, are included. A term paper or a series of lesson plans (teachers and M.N.S. students only) will be required to complete the course.


Introductory geology courses from other departments or institutions may be substituted,but students need to check with the instructor.


1. CONTACT Lori Tapanila ASAP to get started, and provide your email address, mailing address, and phone number.

2. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: Arrange for an "exam proctor". You must do this in order to continue taking this course and receive credit. Send the name, address, phone number, and an email address of the proctor to the instructor.

3. Go to each course module (menu to the left on this page) and follow the instructions. Perform all tasks associated with each module, and use e-mail to submit your work. Keep up with the readings in the textbook and other assignments. Please name your files with your initials and the module number, for example -- LTmod1.doc.

4. Plan to finish this course in the current term, just like any other semester course. This means doing 2 to 3 modules per week and getting an early start on your term project.


This course will fly by ! ! ! Use the schedule below to help you keep up on the work.

Modules are due on the Monday of the following week. For example, Modules 1 & 2 are due on Monday, June 19. You can turn in your work at any time thought. Late work will be accepted, but only until the day of the next exam. However, if you would like feedback on your work before the exam, it is important that you turn in your work on time.

Exam 1 will cover Modules 1 - 6, the Final Exam will be comprehensive but will focus on Modules 7 - 15. Study Guides will be provided for both exams.


Undergrad Graduate
Hour Exam 100 100
Module tasks @ 10 points for each module-Do all the module tasks; the best ten will be graded. 100 100
Term Paper or Lesson Plans 100 200
FINAL EXAM- comprehensive 150 150
TOTAL 450 550

Grading of Term Paper**

Understanding of topic 25 50
Use of literature, citations 20 25
Grammatics, clarity, use of figures and tables 20 25
Organization, completeness, outline 25 50
Scientific discussion, problem assessment -- 50
Meaningful summary and conclusions 10 25

**If lesson plans are substituted for a term paper, submit a prospectus and set of guidelines used by your institution.


The required textbook for this course is "The New Solar System" , fourth edition.  Books that can be used as supplemental material include, but are not limited to, the list below. Supplemental readings from other web sites, library, or personal resources are essential for a more thorough understanding of planetary geology. Suggestions for further reading will be found within each module.

The New Solar System , fourth edition, by J. Kelly Beatty, Carolyn Collins Petersen, and Andrew Chaiken, (editors) 1999, Cambridge University Press,. (ISBN 0-521-64587-5 for soft cover, ISBN 0-521-64183-7, hard cover) or Sky Publishing, (ISBN 0-933346-86-7, soft cover).  Cambridge University Press has two websites, and  Welcome to Cambridge University Press .  Sky Publishing also has as website,  Sky and Telescope Magazine -- Home Page

The New Solar System is written by some of the best planetary scientists, and each chapter has a different author. The fourth edition of The New Solar System is illustrated by Don Davis.


Undergraduates (422)

Paper will about 8-10 printed pages, double spaced; total includes figures, tables, references, etc. Write on any subject dealing with planetary geology. Organization must follow a suitable outline and references must be cited properly. A typical outline will include an introduction, statement of problem, main body (with subheadings, figures and/or tables), discussion, and summary and/or conclusions, and a reference list .  Please cite your sources per GSA format, e.g. (Smith, 1999) in the body of the paper with a complete citation in your reference list.

The rationale for doing a paper is to demonstrate an increased amount of knowledge in your chosen subject, above what you would have known had you not taken this course. The paper should demonstrate a knowledge of scientific concepts that pertain to your subject. Check with the instructor for ideas or if you are uncertain of the appropriateness of your topic, but don't wait until then to begin conjuring up some good ideas.

Graduates (522)

Follow the same guidelines as for the undergraduate paper except produce a longer (~20 pages), research-oriented paper that includes an abstract and possibly a presentation of the essential components of your research on this web site. Subject can be any planetary problem that has a geological aspect. The paper may stem from a literature/information search (e.g. collection of data, opinions, or documentation of problem and solution), or it may deal with a specific problem which presents data you collected. Either way, synthesis of information and data assessment are critical.

Lesson Plans

Teachers in the K-12 system or students working on an M.N.S. degree (will ultimately obtain a teaching certificate) may substitute lesson plans for the term paper. For each plan a short prospectus must be submitted to the instructor for approval, mainly because each school system is slightly different. Lesson plans will be worth 50 points each, so 422 students will be required to make up two plans and 522 students will produce four plans.*

You may think of these as "unit plans."  A short summary of a single day's lesson will not be enough.  The plan you turn in must be comparable to the term paper (see above) in terms of the time you spend making it, the number of sources you use, and the materials used.  The plan should include detailed descriptions of what you want to teach, important concepts to be learned, how you will test your students, what materials you will use etc.  For example, if you plan to have students use the internet as a source, you should include the websites you intend to have them visit.   If you plan to use handouts, include examples.  Please cite your sources according to GSA format.

All papers will be available for pick-up when the next semester begins. If you need to have your paper mailed, please include a note with name and address.

Here are some useful links to begin studying the solar system and planetary processes.

National Geographic's Virtual Solar System A great site with good images.
Welcome to the Planets  More great pictures and a lot of facts about each planet.
NASA - JPL - Mars Global Surveyor      -- Mars Pathfinder      -- Mars Society of S. California This site features  news on space exploration, exercises for kids, and lots of other stuff.

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