Paper No. 45
Presentation Time: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM
STUDYING EARTH SYSTEMS USING MULTIDISCIPLINARY DEPARTMENT FIELD TRIPS
To bring together students and faculty within our Geology, Geography, Environmental Studies and Environmental Science programs, we have initiated an annual department field trip. Although the location of the field trip changes each year, our objectives remain the same. We use a multidisciplinary approach to study an environmental problem, to expose students to a wide breadth of faculty expertise, provide students an opportunity to work together, and promote earth science at Slippery Rock University. The first field trip to Assateague National Seashore explored the geology and geography of barrier islands. The goals were to: develop understanding of the fragile barrier island system, assess the effects of human development and recognize the importance of preservation. Students were required to participate in a series of projects and record field observations for each. Activities included: 1) observing sediment processes, the effects of storms on island geomorphology, and beach restoration, 2) generating a beach profile using a GPS, and 3) examining island migration inland over time. The second field trip to Killbear Provincial Park and Sudbury, Ontario, exposed students to the history of geologic thought with respect to meteorite impact structures, assessed the environmental problems associated with mining, and compared provincial park versus national park management. The students: 1) developed field skills in rock and mineral identification, 2) recorded observations, 3) sketched structures associated with impacts and 3) formulated possible scenarios for formation of psuedotachylyte and breccia units. The overarching learning goals for each field trip include: 1) understanding the geologic processes and human influences specific to each location, 2) improving observational and data collection skills to better prepare students to conduct research, 3) developing an understanding of how science works, and 4) using an earth system approach to study environmental issues. Assessment is done informally with discussions at the end of each trip. These field trips have increased student/faculty interactions, have created greater environmental and geographical awareness in our students and expanded students knowledge base, observational and problem solving skills.