Developing an Essential Question
The essential question of our geology curricula, How do I recognize evidence of geologic change in my environment?, is intended to be a theme or thread, linking all curriculum components together. The question has the following characteristics:
Transportable: The essential question can be asked in any educational setting: National Park, school, neighborhood, Earth, and during any part of the Rocks on the Move curriculum: pre-site visit, on-site program, and post-site lessons.
Multi-sensory: The essential question can be answered using many senses. We can observe geologic changes, visually, or by feel (shaking ground), smell (volcanic activity), taste (salt air), hearing (hear the rumble of an earthquake or landslide).
Universal: All students have experienced geologic change of some sort or another by being residents of planet Earth, so all students have personal experiences to draw upon and share.
Process-oriented: The essential question addresses process (geologic changes and how they occur) rather than solely observation/description (rock identification and mapping).
Did You Know?
It takes about 1,000 years of radiolarian “rain” to produce a layer of ribbon chert just one millimeter thick.