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Keywords:

  • learning science;
  • geocognition

Decades ago, pioneering petroleum geologist Wallace Pratt pointed out that oil is first found in the human mind. His insight remains true today: Across geoscience specialties, the human mind is arguably the geoscientist's most important tool. It is the mind that converts colors and textures of dirt, or blotches on a satellite image, or wiggles on a seismogram, into explanatory narratives about the formation and migration of oil, the rise and fall of mountain ranges, the opening and closing of oceans. Improved understanding of how humans think and learn about the Earth can help geoscientists and geoscience educators do their jobs better, and can highlight the strengths that geoscience expertise brings to interdisciplinary problem solving.