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The Dynamic Earth: A Course for Educators

American Museum of Natural History via Coursera


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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.


  • Introduction & The Mystery of Geologic Time
    • You will explore the ways scientists study the rock record to determine the geologic history of the Earth.
  • Evolution of the Atmosphere
    • You 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.
  • Plate Tectonics: Mountain Building
    • You 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.
  • 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.

Taught by

Edmond Mathez and Ro Kinzler


4.0 rating, based on 3 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 214 ratings

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  • You don't need to be a teacher to appreciate this course. It teaches you how to observe and analyze local geological features and understand the earth's geological history.
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