Montana State University

ERTH 591-801: Geology of the Moon

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Sep 28-Nov 27, 2015
Credit: 3 graduate
Tuition & Fees: $910.65 NSTA members 10% discount
Instructor(s): Cassandra Runyon and Lynn Powers

Register Online

Course Description

The Geology of the Moon on-line course is designed for practicing teachers who want to understand more about the Moon and its history and relationship to Earth. We will explore theories for its formation and the geologic processes involved in its evolution, including the differentiation of its layers, volcanic activity, and impact cratering, with each discussion encompassing comparisons between the Earth and Moon. We will investigate the Moon’s orbital characteristics (revolution, rotation, phases and eclipses) and explore current and upcoming missions to the Moon (the material will be connected to National Science Education Standards). During this course you will interactively participate through a combination of presentations, assigned readings, on-line discussions, classroom exercises and dynamic activities.

The instructor, Cassandra Runyon, has her PhD in Geology and has been working in the field for over 20 years. She is a member of the Science and Education and Public Outreach team for the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, or SSERVI, formerly NASA's Lunar Science Institute, and was a science team member and Education/Outreach lead for a recent mission to the Moon.

A special "thanks" to NASA's SSERVI for their support in the development of this course.

Participation in this course is limited to US teachers only, as we are not allowed to send some of the materials/equipment out of the U.S.

Meeting Place and Times

Teachers may log into the course at times of day that best fit their schedules. It is necessary to connect at least 4-6 times per week and spend approximately 12-15 hours each week for nine weeks, to stay current and successfully complete this compressed 3 credit graduate level course. This estimated time commitment includes both time spent online and offline working on course related activities.


Cassandra Runyon, PhD. is an Associate Professor of Geology at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. She is a lunar and planetary geologist and has been actively involved in education/outreach and educator training for over twenty years.

Lynn Powers, MS. earned her Master of Science in Science Education degree from Montana State University in 2014. She has been an informal educator for over ten years and is currently the President of the Southwest Montana Astronomical Society and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador. Lynn also teaches for the Yellowstone Association Institute.


Bachelors degree; teaching certification.

Target Audience

Practicing upper-elementary and middle-school teachers who want to better understand the Moon, its history, and its relationship to Earth (grades 5-9).

Participation is limited to US teachers only, as we are not allowed to send some of the materials/equipment overseas.

Time Commitment:

12-15 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

 Program Fee $25.50
 Computer Fee$10.65
 Distributed Learning Fee$75.00

A $30 registration fee is also charged once per semester.

The costs above assume that you are taking only MSU Extended University courses during the semester that the course is offered. If you also registered for courses through the MSU Registrar, the regular MSU fee structure may apply.

A $40 late fee will be assessed if payment is not posted to your account by 3 pm (Mountain Time) of the course start date (or the business day before if the course starts on a weekend or a holiday).

To learn more about tuition and fees, please see the University Business Services' Student Accounts Web page.

NSTA Members are eligible to receive a 10% discount on tuition.

Required Books/Materials

  • Participants must purchase some craft items for activities (play-doh, baking soda and gelatin for volcanos, etc.).
  • Other materials for use in the course will be sent to participants, including hand-held spectrometers and rocks. Some of these are to be returned at the completion of the course.

Computer Requirements:

  • Computer running Windows XP Service Pack 3 or newer or Mac OS X.5 (Leopard) or higher
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Internet access

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

contact Cassandra Runyon at for questions regarding course content, or Kelly Boyce at for questions about registration policies.

How to Register

Register Online

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