2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 10:40 AM

Outdoor Classrooms: Development of a Cross Disciplinary, Watershed Based Approach at Binghamton University

GRANEY, Joseph R., Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies, Binghamton University, P.O. Box 6000, Binghamton, NY 13850, jgraney@binghamton.edu

Our outdoor classroom approach for environmental education involves integrated study of physical, chemical and biological processes at field sites on and off campus. We first provide our students with on site training in areas of differing land use in the Fuller Hollow Creek watershed, which are within walking distance from the traditional classrooms on the Binghamton University campus. Opportunities for research and education experiences in this outdoor classroom setting includes 1) installing and using instrumentation for hands-on learning activities, 2) using pollution as the unifying theme to understand the complexity of biogeochemical processes from air, surface water and groundwater quality perspectives, 3) direct linking of concepts within three courses in three disciplines: Environmental Hydrology (Environmental Studies), Environmental Measurements (Geology), and Ecosystem Ecology (Biology) through use of cross-disciplinary data collection and instruction activities, 4) involving students, including future K-12 science teachers, in designing, implementing, and evaluating cross-disciplinary field exercises and 5) achieving long term data collection goals by linking outdoor activities between courses with individual student based research projects in order to assess seasonal differences in watershed processes.

Following on campus training, off campus activities including watershed scale monitoring and wetland creation, development and functioning demonstration projects have been a focal point for cross disciplinary undergraduate and graduate research, primarily within the Susquehanna River Basin in upstate New York. Predicting and evaluating peak flow, as well as nutrient and sediment transport and attenuation in rural as well as urban locations, are common project objectives. Establishing hydrological-geological-ecological linkages, using a watershed based perspective through use of outdoor classrooms on and off campus, is providing students with expertise directly applicable to environmental problem solving in real world scenarios.