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Geotopes as a tool for geoscience teaching and outreach

Traditional geological field education includes organized trips of large student groups to geological outcrops. Typically, instructors guide students to outcrops and give (mini-)lectures, such that the students’ notes consist of the provided verbal summaries instead of one’s own sketches and descriptions of outcrops, often leading to poor reports. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic prevented group-travel to geological sites, which halted such forms of teaching. To continue field education despite the contact-restrictions, I designed an alternative way of field-based learning through proactive engagement of students in trip planning, site selection, outcrop study, discussion and report writing. The concept involves (1) geotope-sites provided by survey offices (e.g., Geotoprecherche LfU Bayern), because they contain precise outcrop locations and just the right amount of relevant geological information allowing students to visit geotopes of their personal interest on their own. It also involves (2) a shared project on GOOGLE EARTH WEB to which students post field photos, sketches and text, which they present in (3) in the weekly zoom-seminars (geotope seminar). Instructors provide feedback and stimulate discussion among participants based on the presented field observations. The resulting sketches and reports are of higher quality because they are exclusively based on the student’s concentrated work at the outcrop (only 2 per day), although no instructor accompanied any student in the field. The geotope seminar accommodates day trips, multi-day field exercises and mapping projects for geoscience students of all ages and interests. Geotope courses could be offered to the broader public if site access is secured.


Anke M. Friedrich
Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany
GeoKarlsruhe 2021