ReaL* Earth Inquiry Workshop Southwestern US, Cohort #2

Albuquerque, NM

Information for Participants


This page provides information for participants in our Teacher Friendly Professional Development Program on teaching local and regional Earth system science of the Southwestern United States. 

The workshop is being held in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico and New Mexico’s Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks and Bandelier National Monuments, June 4 - 6, 2012. Classroom space is provided by Desert Ridge Middle School.

Here’s a bit about the geologic setting of the workshop:

  1. The Valles Caldera is one of three active calderas in the United States. It encircles a field of volcanoes whose resurgent domes partition the 22-kilometer-wide caldera into five sections, or valles, which means valleys without trees in Spanish. The largest of these, Valle Grande, is almost 10 kilometers long and six kilometers wide. A magma chamber seethes five kilometers below the idyllic grasslands that shroud the surface of the Valle Grande. The eruptions formed the caldera roughly 1.2 million years ago, when the volcanic field expelled more than 750 cubic kilometers of ash and lava. Ash deposits contributed tuft to the surrounding Jemez Mountains, and the landscape sank back in on itself to form the vast bowl of the Valles Caldera.

  2. Excerpted from:

  3. A Secret Garden: New Mexico’s Valles Caldera

  4. by Jenna Beck, Geotimes Travels in Geology, July 2007

The workshop begins a professional development program for educators from the Southwest who want to teach about local and regional Earth system science in an inquiry-based way. We’ll work together to study the region’s geology and to virtually recreate the field sites in a Virtual Field Environment (VFE) so that others can explore it without actually visiting the site. The program includes collaborating on VFE development, deepening geologic knowledge and developing strategies and resources for teaching about local and regional Earth system science.

Participants will provide input into the development of the Teacher-Friendly Guide to the Geoscience of the Southwest.

Click the map for directions to the school. Links to information about our probable field sites are both embedded in the map’s placemarks and in the box on the right side of this page.

Things to Do Before the Workshop:

There are two pieces of homework that are ideally to be done before the workshop. 

  1. 1.Create a “Powers of Ten” Google Earth Tour for your school or institution. For an introduction, see Your Own Powers of Ten Or, go straight to the tutorials:  If you’re comfortable with Google Earth, and have created Google Earth tours previously, this will probably take about two hours. The tutorials hopefully will be updated prior to the workshop. Google Earth has a newer version that simplifies aspects of the work. It is now simpler to embed pictures in placemarks. (Placemarks are the map markers that when clicked on provide pictures or text, like the volcanoes in the map above). If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact Don at or via Skype at dugganhaas. Using Skype allows screensharing, which makes trouble shooting much easier. The two key purposes of this task are to create a useful teaching resource and to provide some familiarity with a key piece of software we’ll be using in our work together. 

The second task is a reading that should be complete before the workshop.  

  1. 2.Read the executive summary of How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the ClassroomWe’ll discuss this the first morning of the workshop.  Here are some things to consider as you read:

•How does how you learn compare to what the authors claim?

•How should research on learning inform how we teach?

•Note that the reading is not about whether people are visual or auditory learners. It’s more about how you put information together in your head.  How do you figure things out?

  1. This task is intended to both bring this research to your attention and to bring the research to bear on our own teaching.  As the reading describes, we are asking you to be metacognitive. The chapter and it can be downloaded from the National Academy Press website:   Scroll down to the link for the free executive summary.

  2. 3. Optional: The last transit of Venus of our lives will occur during the workshop. Learn more about it here. The next such alignment will be in 2117. We will break from geology and environmental science to turn our gazes upward in the afternoon and evening of June 5. To prepare, you might bring something for the viewing party. We’ll provide eclipse shades -- they look like 3D glasses with mylar lenses -- but if you have access to a telescope with an appropriate solar filter, that’s easy for you to transport, please bring it along. We’re still planning for this, but we’ll likely look at the various low tech safe ways you can project the Sun’s image. Those who are driving and have the time, might make a wearable pinhole camera, following the tutorial here (ppt) or here (html).

You may also wish to explore the project websites before the workshop:


Getting ready for the workshop...

Getting Ready:

  1. The 2012 ReaL Program Application!

  2. Getting Ready Overview (from 2011; check back for updates)

  3. Make Your Own Powers of Ten.

  4. Reading: How Students Learn Executive Summary.  (pdf)

Here’s a link to an earlier workshop’s agenda which includes the pre-workshop homework. The agenda for this year will be similar and uploaded to the site prior to the workshop:



VFE PowerPoint Templates:

  1. Prezi: VFE Template

  2. PowerPoint: VFE Template Bio-ES V2

  3. More resources for teaching on our Assessments and Student Materials Page.

Site-specific Resources:

  1. Albuquerque’s Geology: A website to accompany the Albuquerque's Geoscape Poster.

  2. Bureau of Land Management website for Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

  3. The National Recreation Trails Program: Tent Rocks Trail, New Mexico

  4. Bandelier National Monument’s website homepage and virtual tours.

  5. Geology of the Tent Rocks from the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources.

  6. Tent Rocks at Valles Caldera , Bandelier Tuff and the Geologic History of the Valles Grandes Caldera from The Great Desert: Geology and Life on Mars and in the Southwest Workshop Pages.

  7.’s Geology Resource Page.

  8. Geologic Map of New Mexico  in Google Earth format (from the USGS).

The Valles Calderas from Space

The Transit of Venus:

  1. On the afternoon and evening of June 5, Venus will pass between the Earth and Sun, and we’ll be able to watch it happen. This won’t happen again until 2117. See the optional assignment 3.

Lodging Information:

  1. La Quinta Inn & Suites Albuquerque Midtown.  We have a block of rooms reserved and we will provide more information to accepted participants.