The Virtual Duke Oil Field: Using GPS to Teach Introductory Earth Science Students about Oil Exploration

Alex Glass, Instructor, Nicholas School of the Environment

Project Description:

Alex Glass teaches Dynamic Earth, a large lecture course with more than 120 students.  He wanted his students to experience collecting data, analyzing and making inferences just as working geologists do. He designed an assignment where students would use a GPS unit and make observations and measurements to map a virtual oil field. A CIT Jump Start grant purchased the GPS units and materials for wooden stations representing rock outcrops.   Students collected data from field stations (pictured), and used this data to infer a geological map of a virtual Duke campus.

Students found that collecting the data was fairly easy and enjoyable, but analyzing the data to create the cross section was more challenging. The majority of students would recommend this course to other students.

Alex discussed his project at the 2009 CIT Showcase.

Project start date: 7/1/2008

Funding awarded: $1950