The Dynamic Earth: A Course for Educators

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Course Date: 08 September 2014 to 06 October 2014 (4 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

How and why is the Earth constantly changing? How do scientists reconstruct events in Earth's geologic history? This course explores the origin and evolution of the Earth and provides resources for educational use.

Estimated Workload: 5-8 hours/week

Course Instructors

Edmond Mathez

Dr. Mathez is an igneous petrologist and geochemist. He has written on a range of topics, such as how basaltic magmas differentiate and solidify, how platinum group element deposits form, and how carbon in rocks influences physical properties. He has had a long interest in the character and evolution of early Earth and issues associated with climate change. His interests have led him to do field work in various parts of the globe, from North America to South Africa and from Greenland to the deep ocean. He was the lead curator of the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth and co-curated the temporary exhibition Climate Change:  The Threat to Life and a New Energy Future.

Ro Kinzler

Dr. Kinzler is Senior Director of Science Education, and Co-Director of the MAT program at the American Museum of Natural History. Before joining the Museum’s Education Division, Dr. Kinzler’s research career involved investigating planetary differentiation through melting at Columbia’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and in the Museum’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Department. In 1999, Dr. Kinzler co-curated the Museum's Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth, and then joined the Museum’s National Center for Science Literacy, Education and Technology. With a mission to take the Museum’s unparalleled resources beyond its walls, the National Center creates a full spectrum of science education products that integrate authentic science with standards-based curriculum design and innovative use of technology. In 2010 Dr. Kinzler assumed senior management of the Gottesman Center for Science Teaching and Learning.

Course Description

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.


What resources will I need for this class?
This class contains all the readings you will need. Any additional materials will be freely available online. 

Who should enroll in this course?
All interested educators are welcome to enroll in this course. The course content focuses primarily on Earth science at the secondary school level (grades 7-12 in the United States).

What are the prerequisites for the class?
There are no prerequisites for this course. An introductory background in Earth science or geology may be helpful but is not required.

What opportunities are available at the American Museum of Natural History as part of this class?
The Museum, located in New York City, offers many rich and diverse opportunities to explore Earth science, including, in particular, the Hall of Planet Earth. For more information, please visit


This course will focus on:
  • an overview of the history of the Earth and geologic time scales
  • an exploration of how scientists “read the rocks”
  • evolution of the Earth’s ocean basins, mountains, and continents
  • interactions of the Earth's major systems 
  • implementing what you’ve learned in your classroom


This four-week class is informed by the recently released Next Generation Science Standards and will be comprised of weekly lecture videos, articles, discussion questions, and a culminating assignment that will help you integrate what you've learned into your classroom curriculum.

Course Workload

5-8 hours/week

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