Understanding geoscience is among the most relevant challenges of our age. The GEODE project aims to transform geoscience teaching and learning using interactive, geodynamic models designed to explore how plate movements are responsible for most features on Earth's surface. These geodynamic models will be embedded in a set of learning progression-inspired online curricula modules for middle school classrooms.

The Geological Models for Explorations of Dynamic Earth (GEODE) project will contribute to the field’s understanding of how engaging middle school students with dynamic systems models supports their learning of complex Earth science concepts regarding Earth’s surface features and sub-surface processes.

GEODE is developing a new geodynamic plate tectonic model for middle school Earth science classrooms. The software will include a system of plates bounded on all sides by other plates that interact like those found on Earth, providing an environment where students can correlate surface geologic features and events to plate interactions.

GEODE is also developing a new and improved version of Seismic Explorer software. The Seismic Explorer model allows users to see patterns of earthquakes on Earth, including magnitude, depth, location and frequency. We have added new data sets related to volcanic eruptions, and we will be adding additional data sets related to the rate and direction of plate motion and plate boundaries. Seismic Explorer automatically updates its database of earthquakes, allowing you to explore recent events in the classroom. With Seismic Explorer, you can explore patterns of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as they relate to topographic features such as mountains, ocean trenches, and river valleys.

Location of volcanoes around the world

GEODE will conduct design-based research to study the development of model-based curriculum modules, assessment instruments, and professional development materials for supporting student learning of (1) plate tectonics and related Earth processes, (2) modeling practices, and (3) uncertainty-infused argumentation practices. The project will also study the types of teacher practices necessary for supporting the use of dynamic computer models of complex phenomena and the use of curriculum that includes an explicit focus on uncertainty-infused argumentation.

Principal Investigators

Amy Pallant
Hee-Sun Lee
Scott P. McDonald

Project Inquiries

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Seismic Explorer

Seismic Explorer

Explore the pattern of earthquakes on Earth, including magnitude, depth, location, and frequency.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-1621176. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

GEODE StudentsWe will research four general areas of student learning and teacher practice:

  1. Students' development of understanding and learning progression
    • How and to what extent does students’ understanding develop through three modules from applying the basics of plate tectonics knowledge to discovering how diverse Earth’s processes and internal forces create Earth’s surface features?
    • How does this development compare with existing plate tectonics learning progression models?
  2. Students' development of modeling practice and learning progression
    • What patterns emerge from students’ modeling practices with geodynamic models?
    • How do the modeling patterns relate to ways in which students describe and explain plate tectonics and associated geological processes that shape Earth’s landforms?
    • How and to what extent do students’ modeling practices develop over three modules?
    • How does the development of students’ modeling practices compare with existing learning progression models?
  3. Students' development of uncertainty-infused argumentation with evidence from modeling and learning progression
    • How do students use evidence generated from models in formulating arguments about geological phenomena?
    • How do students frame uncertainty in accepting or refuting evidence from the models?
    • How does the development of students’ uncertainty-infused argumentation practice compare with existing learning progression models?
  4. Teacher practice
    • What practices are productive in supporting students’ use of dynamic computer models of complex phenomena?
    • What is the repertoire of practices developed by teachers around the use of modeling that include an explicit focus on uncertainty-infused argumentation?

Research Plan

Research will focus on curriculum modules, assessment materials, and professional development materials. Curriculum modules will undergo three design cycles from Year 1 to Year 3; assessment materials will be developed and continuously revised from Year 1 to 3; professional development materials will be outlined in Year 1, developed in Year 2, and used and revised in Years 3 and 4. Year 4 will be a pilot of GEODE software and curriculum modules, as well as supporting professional development materials.

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