Earth Magnetism Laboratory


Research Experience for Teachers

Summer 2012 saw the initiation of a Michigan Tech Earth Magnetism Laboratory (EML) NSF CAREER project incorporating educational outreach for high school science teachers. Teachers directly participate in the EML’s research aimed at quantifying the strength and morphology of the Precambrian geomagnetic field via detailed analyses of fossil magnetism recorded in ancient rocks. This year’s work focuses on sampling and analyzing billion year old mafic intrusions from northern Wisconsin and Michigan. The summer phase featured a 4-week field and lab session and consisted of a 4-person team: two teacher participants, Chuck Schepke and Gregg Bluth, PhD Candidate Elisa Piispa, and Postdoctoral Research Fellow Kari Anderson. The small size of the team ensured that teachers gained skills on aspects of paleomagnetic field procedures, processing samples, magnetic characterization, demagnetization experiments, and data interpretation. These types of investigations into geomagnetic field behavior are crucial for understanding the mechanisms of field generation and can be linked to the development of the Earth’s atmosphere and biosphere, thereby serving as a focus for connecting high-level Earth science research with a standard physics curriculum in middle/high school. Educational outreach objectives include developing effective methods for pre-college physics teachers to gain the experience and expertise to (1) use paleomagnetic research to motivate and help students understand the physics of magnetism, from microscopic to planetary scales; (2) transfer key experiences of scientific processes to classroom activities, specifically the skills of patience, innovation, flexibility, and collaboration; and (3) help students integrate mathematics and physics into logical problem-solving approaches. Outcomes of our summer research experience will be presented at the 2012 Fall AGU meeting in San Francisco.

Paleomagnetic field workshops for the Michigan Earth Science Teacher Association (MESTA) Conference

Paleomagnetic field workshops for MiTEP