2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


EVES, Robert L.1, BOWNS, James E.2, MARTIN, Ronald M.2, DAVIS, Larry E.3, BROWN, D. Gordon4 and LAMBERTS, William J.4, (1)Division of Geosciences, Southern Utah Univ, 351 West Center St, Cedar City, UT 84720, (2)Biology, Southern Utah Univ, 351 W. Center St, Cedar City, UT 84720, (3)Geology, College of St. Benedict/St. John's Univ, Collegeville, MN 56321, (4)Biology, College of St. Benedict / St. John's Univ, Collegeville, MN 56321, eves@suu.edu

The National Science Foundation suggests that educators can foster scientific literacy among undergraduates by integrating aspects of geology, meteorology, oceanography, biology, chemistry, and environmental science. Due to time restrictions, weekend field trips tend to be narrowly focused, making it difficult to take such a multi-disciplinary approach. However, extended field trips can be designed to immerse students in integrated, multi-disciplinary science. Our non-geoscience colleagues from other science disciplines are very interested in collaborating with geology faculty in designing and leading integrated field experiences. We have found that extended natural history field trips provide an excellent opportunity to use a systems approach for integrative science learning. These collaborative, extended field experiences effectively capitalize upon the natural diversity of our physical world, instructional expertise of the instructors, and innate interest of our students.

We have successfully employed this approach in three diverse areas: the Natural History of (1) the Pacific Northwest (2) the Colorado Plateau and (3) Tropical Carbonate Systems. These extended field trips range from 10 days to 4 weeks in length. Instructors with expertise in geology, biology, archeology, botany, range management, and environmental science have participated. As an example of one such trip, geology, biology, and environmental science students from our two institutions studied, and are presently involved in a long-term analysis of, a lagoon on San Salvador, Bahamas. The lagoon is a classic example of a small "carbonate factory", a nursery for barracuda, and a natural system beginning to experience potentially degrading impact from nearby human development. Our interdisciplinary students are working together to monitor the abundance and distribution of calcareous algae, the principle carbonate producers; turtle and manatee grass distribution; the principle sediment baffling and trapping agents in the lagoon; and, the water chemistry near the distal end of the lagoon, where new housing developments are being planned.