2003 Seattle Annual Meeting (November 2–5, 2003)
Paper No. 207-3
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM-8:45 AM


DOWSE, Mary E., Department of Natural Sciences, Western New Mexico Univ, PO Box 680, Silver City, NM 88062-0680, dowsem@silver.wnmu.edu.

Recent reform efforts in science education stress the need to make science relevant for students. In geology this can be done by utilizing local examples and geologic features to illustrate concepts discussed in the textbook. In General Geology classes at Western New Mexico University (WNMU) students are regularly taken into the field to reinforce concepts discussed in class and lab.

At WNMU the traditional “point and look” field trips have been replaced by active trips where students work collaboratively to answer questions based on their observations and previous instruction. The questions are typically simple but designed to encourage students to make observations and the make inferences based on those observations and previous activities.

Examples of field trips include Name that Rock and The Ditch Walk. After completing several labs on rock and mineral identification the class visits several local outcrops to describe and identify the rocks. Students work collaboratively in teams and are encouraged to examine each outcrop, identify any minerals and name the rock. There is no discussion until after students have examined the outcrop and had an opportunity to record their observations and then they are asked to share observations with the class and discuss their interpretation of the outcrop.

The Ditch Walk is a walking tour of the Big Ditch, a deep arroyo cut by Silva Creek through downtown Silver City. Students are asked to try and follow the flow of water from rainfall on campus to the ditch. They are encouraged to look for examples of erosion, deposition, and how humans have modified the stream. Students work in teams to write a ‘report’ on the status of the creek based on their observations and to make recommendations for management of the creek.

These are just two examples of field excursions in general classes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that field trips are well received, particularly the ditch walk that encourages students to look at a local feature with new learning and understanding.

2003 Seattle Annual Meeting (November 2–5, 2003)
Session No. 207
Teaching Local Geology: An NAGT Session In Honor of Robert Christman
Washington State Convention and Trade Center: 2A
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 35, No. 6, September 2003, p. 523

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