The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Full Steam Ahead: Episode sixSaturday, 27th August 2016 15:30 - BBC TwoThe final episode of Full Steam Ahead looks at how more free time and rail transport allowed Victorians to travel... Read more: Full Steam Ahead: Episode six
Life Story: Growing upMonday, 29th August 2016 22:00 - BBC Four
Full Steam Ahead: Episode fiveTuesday, 30th August 2016 00:40 - BBC Two
Hidden histories: Britain's oldest family businesses: Balson The ButcherTuesday, 30th August 2016 22:00 - BBC Four
Life Story: First stepsAvailable until Sunday, 25th September 2016 00:50Each generation's greatest challenge - to ensure the next generation thrives. Read more: Life Story: First steps
Full Steam Ahead: Episode sixAvailable until Monday, 26th September 2016 16:30
BBC Inside Science - 2016/2017 series: Proxima b exoplanet, The Hunt for Vulcan, East Antarctic lakes, Deep sea shark huntingAvailable until Friday, 25th August 2017 00:00
Full Steam Ahead: Episode fourAvailable until Thursday, 22nd September 2016 01:15
OpenLearn Live: August Bank Holiday Special 2016Get more than an ice cream out of your holiday weekend - make the most of the last of summer. Read more: OpenLearn Live: August Bank Holiday Special 2016
Full Steam AheadIt’s Full Steam Ahead for historians Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn as they bring... Read more: Full Steam Ahead
Internet of everythingThe internet of everything (IoE) is the networked connection of people, process, data and things.... Try: Internet of everything now
Forensic psychologyIn this free course, Forensic psychology, you will discover how psychology can help obtain... Try: Forensic psychology now
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.
After studying this 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.
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Earth Sciences: reading the rocks
- Current section: 1.1 About this course
- 1.2 The Earth's crust
- 1.3 Minerals and rocks
- 1.4 The formation of igneous rocks
- 1.5 The formation of sedimentary rocks
- 1.6 The formation of metamorphic rocks
- 1.7 Interlude
- 1.8 Geological fieldwork
- 1.9 The rock cycle
- 1.10 Changing sea-level
- 1.11 Summary
- Current section:
- 2 What is ecology?
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
1 Earth Sciences: reading the rocks
1.1 About this course
Science is all about knowledge, what we know about the material world and the Universe in which our world is just a microscopic speck. The aim of scientists is to extend the frontiers of this knowledge so that we can understand more about the physical Universe and the life within it.
Scientists acquire knowledge by engaging in four fundamentally important and connected tasks. The first is observation: they observe the natural world and the space beyond it, and both describe and record what they see. Second, they construct hypotheses to explain what they see. Third, they carry out experiments where possible to test their hypotheses. Finally they communicate their findings – to other scientists who will build on this work to extend knowledge still further, to technologists who will devise practical applications for scientific knowledge, and to the general public to raise awareness of scientific discovery. The way in which science is communicated to interested parties is especially important because scientific knowledge is useless if no one else can understand it.
This course introduces some of the background needed for students taking part in the earth science and ecology activities which often take place at science residential schools. At such schools, students normally undertake laboratory and field based activities in earth science, biology, physics and chemistry.
In August 2006 Radio 4 Material World broadcast three programmes from Open University Residential Schools, including SXR103 Practising Science. To listen to the programme go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/thematerialworld_20060810.shtml.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Geology courses or view the range of currently available OU Geology courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 24th March 2016
Last updated on: Thursday, 24th March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
- Latest OpenLearn pages
- Latest pages from OpenLearn - Geology
- Latest pages tagged - ecology
- Latest pages tagged - Star Trek
- Latest pages tagged - fieldwork
- Latest pages tagged - data
- Latest pages tagged - Joseph Butler
- Latest pages tagged - stoics
- Latest pages tagged - sea levels
- Latest pages tagged - pollution
- Latest pages tagged - calculations
- Latest pages tagged - SXR103_1
- Latest comments on this page
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (3.1 MB)
- PDF (4.8 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (2.2 MB)
- ePub 2.0 (2.2 MB)
- Kindle (1.3 MB)
- RSS (329 KB)
- HTML (1.9 MB)
- SCORM (1.8 MB)
- OUXML Package (41 KB)
- OUXML File (129 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.