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MCC's GeoScene Wall Enhances Immersive Learning in Geology

[Monday, January 14, 2019]


MCC's earth science and geology instructor Kate Kramer points out rock types in the GeoScene wall, the largest of its type in the country and features all three rock types: Igneous (granite), Sedimentary (sandstone and limestone) and Metamorphic (quartzite and marble). Kramer uses the GeoScene as a teaching tool for earth science and geology students.

With cornfields dotting the surrounding landscape and no rock outcrops with geological structures in the area, McHenry County College Geology instructor Kate Kramer is ecstatic about her newest classroom tool - a GeoScene wall, a colorful geological structure installed earlier this semester at the entrance to the Liebman Science Center that features the shapes, colors and composition of rocks that are found underground.

The GeoScence wall at MCC is the largest in the country, measuring approximately five and a half-feet tall and 16 feet long. It features all three rock types: Igneous (granite), Sedimentary (sandstone and limestone), and Metamorphic (quartzite and marble).

“Students have been very excited to see it,” said Kate Kramer, earth science and geology instructor. “It’s a great teaching tool and I love when my students can see geology up-close and personal. It helps students get that vision as if we sliced into the earth. It includes five distinct geological structures that students are asked to identify and label,” she added.

Kramer said there are no easily accessible rock outcrops with geologic structures in McHenry County, but the GeoScene puts geologic structures right outside her classroom.

“It’s graspable and student enjoy working with something that is a close replica to what they would see out West,” Kramer said. “It helps students get that vision as if we sliced into the earth.”

Before the Liebman Science Center opened last fall, the architect asked instructors to brainstorm what types of equipment or features to include in the new building.

“I told them I wanted accessible lab tables and they told me to dream big, so then I told them I also wanted a rock wall,” Kramer said.

Kramer sketched the wall’s design on paper, which was then constructed by masons.

“It’s amazing to me how the masons took my sketch and brought it to life,” she said. “It’s not every day that you ask masons to build geologic structures; they typically use stone to add beauty and architectural interest to a building. But I worked very closely with Demonica Kemper Architects, Pepper Construction and Illinois Masonry Corporation to create a unique teaching tool for MCC.”

“Typically, students look at rocks in a box or view a lot of photographs, but it’s great to see the real thing,” Kramer said. “A rock wall allows them to put their book knowledge into context.”

For Layna Sutton of McHenry, the GeoScene makes learning about geology easier.

            “It’s definitely easier than looking at the pictures,” Sutton said. “It’s interesting because I walk by it every day and it looks like art, but it depicts what we’re learning about in class.”

Nathan Hogue of Woodstock agreed that the GeoScene is interesting.

“It displays the different rock types that you won’t see anywhere else in the area. It was like a live demonstration.”

Riley Lundgren of Marengo said he likes the GeoScene “because it’s a 2D model on one plane and everything is in front of you.”

In the future, Kramer said looks forward to building an interactive web page on geology.




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