Geoscience Data Puzzles

Data Puzzle
PI(s): 
Kim A. Kastens

 We think that learning from data is an inherently rewarding activity, and a habit of mind that is key to the way scientists learn about the world.   As such, it deserves a central place in science education.  Our experiences in trying to foster the use of data in education have shown us that when it works, use of authentic Earth data is empowering and exhilarating for both students and teachers. 

Earth Science Data Puzzle include:

1. The "Aha" Insight: Every Puzzle offers one or more "Aha" insights, a moment when the connection between data and process comes clear in a rewarding burst of insight and illumination.   

2. Selected Authentic Data: Each Puzzle uses carefully selected authentic data from the Earth's lithosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere, designed to illuminate a fundamental Earth process, a process that is typically taught in Earth Science classes across the country, and is included in the National Science Education Standards. The volume of data is manageable, for both teacher and student.  Data Puzzles are time-efficient, taking approximately one class period to complete.

3. Critical Thinking:   Data Puzzles foster the ability to go beyond looking up values in a graph, to thinking deeply about ‘what does this data mean?’   A variety of reasoning processes are exercised in the Puzzles, including spatial reasoning, temporal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and reasoning that combines data and concepts.

4. Knowledge integration:  Data Puzzles require students to combine information from the provided data with their knowledge of Earth processes.  Multiple kinds of data are involved, including graphs, tables, maps, images, and narratives, in various combinations.  From these multiple lines of evidence, students must craft coherent claims about the Earth System, and support their claim with evidence from data.

5. Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Every Puzzle is accompanied by a rich Pedagogical Content Knowledge Guide, instructing how to teach the topic.  Our PCK Guides include a step-by-step tour through the reasoning needed to solve the puzzle, anticipate and answer tough questions, provide a heads-up about common student misconceptions and mistakes, and in general make the teachers’ job easier.

Faculty, Scientists, and Staff: