Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Teaching Geology through Literature - Walden

I have been wanting to include a new section to my website and I finally got around to doing it. I call it Geology through Literature (see the nifty logo I made :-)). I also grouped this with my Geological Movies section under Geological Education. Well the first one I made up was for Walden by Henry David Thoreau.

Using Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Science is not a new invention. People have been performing science for many thousands of years. Often they build on research of those before them and sometimes they start from scratch. The purpose of this project is to use a scientific study from the 19th century to produce a current contour map of lake depth.

The study being described is in Walden by Henry David Thoreau, written before 1854. The book is typically considered “philosophical” literature but in this case he performs the basis of science. He identified a problem, determined how to solve the problem, and then executed the research.

His Problem
Often people would describe the depth of Walden Pond as bottomless. He wished to prove them wrong and determine the actual depth.

His MethodTo determine the actual depth of the lake he used the simple method of a rock and string.

His SolutionThat’s where you come in.

Project Directions

1. Read the “The Pond in winter” chapter of Walden by Thoreau.
2. Write down all important sentences and phrases that have to do with the depth and shape of the pond.
3. Summarize these into only the important points (like the location and depth of the deepest point.
4. Use one of the outlines of Walden Pond provided to start and outline the important features (deepest point, sand bars, etc.) in pencil.
5. Make a contour depth map with 20ft contours. The shore of the lake will be your 0 contour (provided). Then erase all of the mistakes and non-important items on the map so you just have a finalized contour map left.

You can also get a zip file with a complete set of directions as well as a step by step solution over at my site - DinoJim.com/GeologyThroughLiterature.htm. And remember if you enjoy this, let me know. And Cite - Don't Steal.

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