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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Lauro

What the Rocks Around You Remember

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

Neil Armstrong once noted, "Geologists have a saying — rocks remember." CLRC's Science Instructor Dr. Bill DiPuccio teaches students to pay attention to the rocks around them. He launched a new Geology course last spring, and it was well received! Students ranged from middle school to high school, and their assignments were scaled in intensity and quantity according to their grade level.

In Dr. DiPuccio's Geology course, students learn necessary scientific principles through labs and then apply those principles by putting together a unique geological profile of their area. For one of these assignments, they collect materials from their own area, and this makes the learning less generalized and more concrete (no pun intended). Dr. DiPuccio emphasizes to his students that geologists are like detectives or sleuths. They examine the circumstantial evidence after the fact — at the 'scene of the crime' so to speak — and try to reconstruct what happened.

"We have lab activities," said Dr. DiPuccio of the class. "We’re working from the same sets of rocks and minerals – a lot of hands-on in the class and local research. Best thing about this class – no tests." Wait, what? No tests? You heard that right. But why? "Because," answered the instructor, "the purpose of the assignments is to apply the knowledge that they’re learning in class. The research that they do in their local areas is the application of the general principles they have learned." In other words, if they can apply the general principles they’ve learned from their textbooks and from the common sets of rocks and minerals they practice with in the labs, then it goes beyond the textbook learning and manifests as an applied Geology course.

Each of the 5 different projects focuses on a different skill and principle, and each student's work culminates in the "Geology of My State" Booklet.

  • State Minerals

  • Regional Tectonic History

  • State Stratigraphic and Fossil History

  • State Geography and Seismology

  • State Geologic Features

Here are some pages excerpted from J. Zaur, who took the class last spring. Her mother told us, "My daughter loved Dr. DiPuccio's Geology class! The cumulative format of the class was very helpful, and Dr. DiPuccio's enthusiasm and presentation of the material inspired her with a love for the subject. This was one of her favorite classes ever!"

One student who studied under Dr. DiPuccio for Astronomy last year is looking forward to another dynamic semester of applied science learning this spring. According to this student's father, "Dr. DiPuccio's enthusiasm for his subject is infectious and made learning easier and much more fun for my daughter. He's the first science teacher I've encountered whose teaching inspired his students to independently form a chat group to discuss the Big Bang Theory. Now that's teaching!"

Geology for Spring 2022 is enrolling now, and the class is open to students age 13 and up. Dr. DiPuccio wanted to impress that "owing to delays in delivery, parents are strongly encouraged to order books and equipment at least 3 weeks before class begins. These materials will be needed the first week of class."

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