The Dynamic Earth: A Course for Educators

About this course: The AMNH course The Dynamic Earth: A Course for Educators provides students with an overview of the origin and evolution of the Earth. Informed by the recently released Next Generation Science Standards, this course examines geological time scales, radiometric dating, and how scientists “read the rocks.” We will explore dramatic changes in the Earth over the last 4 billion years, including how the evolution of life on Earth has affected its atmosphere. In addition to looking at geology on a global scale, participants will take to their own backyards to explore and share their local geologic history. Course participants will bring their understanding of the dynamic Earth - along with content resources, discussion questions, and assignments - into their own teaching.

Created by:   American Museum of Natural History

  • Edmond Mathez

    Taught by:    Edmond Mathez, Curator and Professor

    Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

  • Ro Kinzler

    Taught by:    Ro Kinzler, Senior Director

    Science Education


Language English
How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course.
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Introduction & The Mystery of Geologic Time
You will explore the ways scientists study the rock record to determine the geologic history of the Earth.  
4 videos, 5 readings
  1. Lecture: Course Overview
  2. Reading: Syllabus
  3. Reading: Resources
  4. Lecture: Introduction to the Course
  5. Reading: About This Course
  6. Lecture: How Zircons Have Revolutionized Understanding of Early Earth
  7. Lecture: The Rate of Decay
  8. Reading: Using Radiometric Dating to Determine the Age of Rocks and Mineral
  9. Reading: "Reading" a Rock to Get Its Age
  10. Graded Quiz: Module One Quiz
Graded: Module One Quiz
Evolution of the Atmosphere
will learn how the evolution of photosynthetic life changed the
concentration of oxygen in the oceans and atmosphere, and how this is
reflected in the rock record. You will also become familiar with how the
Next Generation Science Standards connect to this week’s content.
Finally, you will complete a written assignment: an analysis of a local
geologic feature.
7 videos, 2 readings
  1. Lecture: Evolution of Early Earth's Atmosphere
  2. Reading: Early Life
  3. Reading: Origin of Earth's Atmosphere
  4. Lecture: Banded Iron Formation
  5. Lecture: Stromatolites
  6. Lecture: Teaching with the Next Generation Science Standards: Part 1
  7. Lecture: Teaching with the Next Generation Science Standards: Part 2
  8. Graded Quiz: Module Two Quiz
  9. Lecture: Local Geology Assignment: Part 1
  10. Lecture: Local Geology Assignment: Part 2
  11. Peer Review: Peer Review: Analyze a Local Geologic Feature
Graded: Module Two Quiz
Plate Tectonics: Mountain Building
will learn how convection causes solid rock to flow in the Earth’s
mantle and how the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates forms
mountains. You will also learn how to identify and address common
student misconceptions about plate tectonics.

5 videos, 2 readings
  1. Lecture: The Structure of Mountain Belts: The Swiss Alps
  2. Reading: How Rocks Flow
  3. Lecture: Ductility of Rocks
  4. Lecture: Marble Deformation
  5. Reading: Mantle Convection and Plate Tectonics
  6. Lecture: Scientists at Work: Mountain Building
  7. Lecture: Addressing Student Misconceptions When Teaching Plate Tectonics
  8. Graded Quiz: Module Three Quiz
Graded: Module Three Quiz
Plate Tectonics: Earthquakes
You will learn about earthquake risk. Using a multimedia teaching case
about earthquake risk in Bangladesh, you will learn how scientists
define and assess the risk from geologic events. You will also learn how
to implement this or similar teaching cases with your students.
7 videos, 4 readings
  1. Lecture: Earthquake Risk
  2. Lecture: Learning & Teaching with the Teaching Case
  3. Reading: Earthquake Risk in Bangladesh
  4. Lecture: Part One: Background
  5. Lecture: Part Two: Data Collection
  6. Lecture: Part Three: Results
  7. Lecture: Part Four: Beyond Tectonics
  8. Graded Quiz: Module Four Quiz
  9. Lecture: Closing Thoughts
  10. Reading: Resources
  11. Reading: Opportunities for Educators
  12. Reading: Support AMNH
Graded: Module Four Quiz



05/08/2016 - 13:00