Southeastern Section - 57th Annual Meeting (10–11 April 2008)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 1:50 PM


BREAM, Brendan R., Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vanderbilt University, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Station B 35-1805, Nashville, TN 37235-1805 and BREAM, Kathleen D., Geospatial and Information Management, Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure, 312 Directors Drive, Knoxville, TN 37923,

A field- and GIS-based exercise was recently reconfigured for the undergraduate oceanography lab course at Vanderbilt University to include hands-on data collection and spatial evaluation with groups of 20 students. The exercise occurs over the course of two weekly 3-hour lab periods for six lab sections. The first 3-hour lab period is dedicated to a field trip to a nearby reservoir where a rented pontoon boat is used to transport students and a teaching assistant to a sampling location. Prior to leaving campus, each students is placed into one of five groups: GPS and observations, navigation and photos, water samplers, water testers, and Hydrolab. The equipment used to collect data includes the following: Hydrolab multiprobe; Van Dorn style water sampler; aquarium water test kit and thermometer; digital camera; laminated topographic and bathymetric maps; handheld GPS unit; plastic water sample containers; and a field observation form. Field observation forms and digital data are collected at the end of the field work and each student is required to create a vertical profile plot for temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen from Hydrolab data using Excel before the next lab period.

The second 3-hour lab period is dedicated to spatial analysis and emphasizes comparison of data from the six labs which is compiled from the digital data collected the week before. With a teaching assistant, students are introduced to the ArcReader software and interface through a set of increasingly complex questions. Field data is plotted on a mosaic of digital orthophoto quadrangles for Davidson County which includes Vanderbilt's campus and the nearby reservoir. A secondary image of the 1:24,000 topographic map is also provided for comparison using the ArcReader “Swipe Layer” tool. Compiled data includes: GPS data tracks, three common waypoints from each lab, roads, and hydrologic features. Hyperlinks to field photos, field observation forms, and vertical profile plots are provided to determine the location of the reservoir's thermocline at multiple locations and for student evaluation of differing analytical tools. Qualitative assessment of the lab suggests a significant positive impact on students' spatial understanding and reasoning. Quantitative assessment of the effectiveness of this exercise is currently being devised and will be compared to previous less data-intensive versions.