Picturing geology in the Slab Lab

29 Nov 2019

Slab LabThey say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that is exactly the philosophy behind the Slab Lab, a new installation to help teach future geologists at The University of Queensland’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, housed in the Steele building.

The Lab, consisting of five large and several small cross-sections of geological materials from key localities in Australia, are arranged in an art gallery style throughout on the ground floor of the building – showing students the dynamic processes that shaped the continent.

Dr Derya Guerer, from UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said the tool is a powerful method for bolstering learning.

Slab Lab“It’s vital to visualise geological processes at different scales, from the microscopic to planetary scale,” she said.

“Currently, the range of observation of Earth materials in laboratory practicals ranges from the micro-scale using microscopes to ‘hand samples, while large-scale phenomena, such as folding and sedimentary structures, are only really seen during limited field opportunities offered to our students.

The Lab will aid geology students from 14 different courses, currently around 600 students per year, complemented by high-tech educational tools.

“This new space will blend traditional Earth Sciences teaching, with new tools – like equipment to create virtual outcrops or to conduct geochemical analyses onsite,” Dr Guerer said.

“It will create a flexible, innovative, active and collaborative learning environment, building students’ observational and spatial visualisation skills.

“These are just the kind of skills that graduates need in working environments, enhancing their employability.”

Slab Lab“And, most importantly, students will gain a holistic understanding of geological processes.”

The Slab Lab opens today and is positioned on the ground floor of the UQ Steele building (Building 3) and was funded by a 2019 UQ Teaching and Learning grant.

If your organisation would like to fund additional slabs for the Slab Lab, please get in contact with Dr Guerer via the link above.