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Practising science: Reading the rocks and ecology

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Have you ever wondered how scientists analyse the environment? This free course, Practising science: Reading the rocks and ecology, introduces you to the techniques used by science students at residential schools. You will learn how to determine where rocks have come from and how they were made. You will also examine the processes involved in determining the ecology of a particular area.

By the end of this free course you should be able to:

  • explain the difference between a mineral and a rock;
  • describe the textural differences between igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks;
  • account for these differences in terms of the processes that produce these rocks;
  • classify igneous rocks according to their grain size and mineralogical composition;
  • recognise the difference between a body fossil and a trace fossil;
  • sketch a rock exposure and identify faults, folds and joints;
  • suggest a sequence of geological events that can best explain the features observed in a rock exposure;
  • relate processes of the rock cycle to a plate tectonic setting;
  • describe the causes of sea-level changes and evidence for these changes;
  • understand how to use a hand lens;
  • define ecology;
  • explain some of the reasons why the study of ecology is important;
  • describe some of the ways in which soil pH influences the distribution of organisms;
  • describe some of the seaweeds and some animals zonation on rocky shores;
  • describe in general terms how transects, quadrats, point quadrants and time counts can be used objectively to collect quantitative data about field sites.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 14 hours
  • Updated Monday 17th March 2014
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Geology
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Practising science: reading the rocks and ecology


Unit image

This unit introduces you to the types of activities undertaken by students of the earth sciences and ecology. You will learn how data is collected and analysed.

This material is from our archive and is an adapted extract from SXR103_1Practising science, which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this subject area [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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