Leveraging IODP Samples, Data and Education/Outreach Resources in Support of a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE): Benefits and Challenges

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Per the PCAST Report (2012), course-based undergraduate research experiences can bring a high-impact STEM educational practice to large numbers of students. However, the logistics and costs of developing and maintaining such experiences have limited broader adoption (e.g., NRC 2015). As part of an NSF-funded effort to assess and disseminate the use of remotely operable research instrumentation in geoscience courses, we have used samples and acquired datasets from IODP Expedition 352 as the basis for a course-based project examining the magmatic evolution of boninite lavas from Sites U1439C and U1442A.

USF undergraduates in GLY 3311C: Mineralogy/Petrology/Geochemistry, were introduced to Expedition 352 and its findings through readings from the 352 Preliminary and Expedition reports. Polished thin sections of thirty Exp. 352 samples acquired from the Kochi Core Repository were prepared for the course. Students conducted handsample and thin section petrography as part of a course term project, culminating with mineral chemistry analysis using the JEOL 8900R Superprobe of the Florida Center for Analytical Electron Microscopy at FIU via remote operation technologies, with all data collected as part of regular in-class activities. Course exercises and labs were tailored to the specifics of the project (e.g., emphasizing ultramafic and mafic igneous rocks and their primary and secondary mineralogies), and the course field trip was to the Gulf Coast Core Repository in TX to examine additional cores and learn more about the history of IODP.

As compared to past years, which focused on rocks collected by students in the southern Blue Ridge mountains, the specifics of the course were different, but the same key topics (rock-forming minerals, phase equilibria) were covered during the term. Students did not prepare their own thin sections as in past years, but benefited from having high-quality polished sections and more time to examine them, which afforded greater practice in petrography. Overall course expenses were similar to past years, as the cost of polished sections was offset by lower field costs. The extensive IODP data repository for Exp. 352 and related cruises was a unique benefit that provided a foundation for student classroom investigations, which has spawned a number of post-course student projects.

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Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 49, issue 2, no. 39-4