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Case Study: GEOSC 320

Critical Earth History Events

In GEOSC 320 students worked in groups to communicate research from scientific literature to tell the story of 1 of 10 critical events in Earth history. Throughout the semester the students compiled video presentations that were 3-5 minutes in length. This project was paired with an individual 10 page research paper on the same topic.

Project in Brief

Course: GEOSC 320 (Geology of Climate Change)
Instructor: Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor
Number of Students: 30
Semester: Spring 2013
Duration of Assignment: 9 Weeks

Key Benefits

Students will complete this class with the knowledge of:

  • How to learn Earth’s climate history
  • Earth’s climate history
  • How earth’s climate works
  • Earth’s complex climate history and the importance of human influence on it
  • How to communicate a message through video
  • How to explain concepts to a general audience

The culmination of all these skills were utilized in the creation of their videos depicting critical events in Earth history.

Project Description for Students

Group will design and produce a 3-5 min video about 1 of 10 of Earth’s historic critical events.

Completed video will include:

  • Thorough coverage of their chosen topic
  • Research of and reference to scientific literature
  • Presentation quality for showing in class
  • Citations of all research and media sources as end credits

To complete the video, students will:

  • Research information on their chosen critical event topic.
  • Receive Media Commons training of iMovie software.
  • Identify appropriate styles to present their topics.
  • Record, edit and export their videos to play for evaluation during class.
Grading Process

The final project was worth 15% of the course grade. Students worked throughout the semester in groups of three to complete their videos. The finished videos were presented in class.

Projects were evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Cited sources that include scientific literature
  • Proper citation of all media sources
  • Quality of content
  • Video length
  • Clarity of message for intended audience

Download the Syllabus


  • iMovie
  • GarageBand
  • Video camera
  • One Button Studio
  • Green Screen


  • Researching topics
  • Information design
  • Effectively working as a team
  • Conveying information in digital forms
  • Effective communication

Target Skills

  • Researching
  • Writing
  • New media literacy
  • Storytelling

(Instructor’s) Lessons Learned

“The students in this class need to be able to explain paleoclimitology and I’ve found that communicating though video has best engaged the students in mastering that ability for these complex topics.”