Controversies in the Earth Sciences

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This course is no longer being offered for credit and has not been updated since 2018. Please excuse old data and broken links.

Quick Facts about EARTH 501

Photo of Eliza Richardson
Eliza Richardson
  • Author and Instructor - Eliza Richardson, Associate Professor of Geosciences
  • Overview - EARTH 501 is the first required course in Penn State's online Master of Education in Earth Sciences. This course will introduce you to a variety of topics from different disciplines within the Earth sciences, with the aim of piquing your interest in areas of current research being conducted here at Penn State.
  • Learning Environment - This open Web site provides the primary instructional materials for the course. The Resources menu links to important supporting materials, while the Lessons menu links to the course lessons. Penn State uses a secure learning management system to support the delivery of this course as well. You will use it to submit assignments, access the library, and receive grades and feedback.
  • Link to Canvas
  • Topics of Study - There are 5 content lessons that will be completed at a rate of approximately 2 weeks per lesson. Lesson learning activities are in the form of background reading and discussion that outlines a current scientific problem or debate, the collection, and manipulation of appropriate data, and the assessment of the results of this work. By doing this, you will simultaneously become familiar with the content as well as the practice of science. You will also participate in online discussions about how to teach this content to specific secondary school audiences. Following the 5 content lessons, you will complete a capstone project (Lesson 6) in which you construct a teaching plan based on the topic of your choice.
    • Lesson 1 - Preinstructional Activities
    • Lesson 2 - Does the Atlantic Ocean require a tsunami warning system?
    • Lesson 3 - How to kill a dinosaur: Consensus in the craters?
    • Lesson 4 - Is the New Madrid Seismic Zone at risk for a large earthquake?
    • Lesson 5 - Recent climate change: Why did it take so long to convince?
    • Lesson 6 - Capstone Project


This course is offered as part of the Open Educational Resources initiative of Penn State's John A. Dutton e-Education Institute. You are welcome to use and re-use materials that appear in this site (other than those copyrighted by others) subject to the licensing agreement linked to the bottom of this and every page.