Science Detectives

One question that students are probably asking as they learn a little about our current expedition is: What exactly are those 30 scientists doing on that boat in the middle of the ocean? A good analogy is presented in the USGS activity “GeoSleuth.” They are detectives looking for and interpreting clues that they then use to tell the story of what happened at the scene they are investigating.

“GeoSleuth” puts the students in the position of being detectives solving a murder mystery. Using that as the hook to grab the students’ attention, it then leads into a lesson about how geologists can glean a lot of information by looking at the layers of rock. Students then use this new knowledge to look at the layers in the cartoon of the crime scene to help them solve the mystery. This is an activity recommended by another 2009 School of Rock alum, Eddie Cohen, who says he has had great success using this activity with his high school students. This webpage has the PowerPoint and teacher guide to allow you to easily use the activity.

The activity specifies layers of rock and sediment on land. Our scientists, of course are looking at layers of rock in the ocean, but the principles are the same. Our scientists are looking for clues (data) from the cores to reconstruct the story of the seamounts they came from.