Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 45-9
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


SMITH, Jason J. and LEET, Kennie, Physical Sciences Dept., SUNY Broome Community College, PO Box 1017, Binghamton, NY 13902

SUNY Broome Community College geoscience faculty have developed a field-based course, Mountain Geology and Climate, that utilizes the rich natural laboratory of the Presidential Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the surrounding area to explore glacial geology and alpine weather patterns of the region. The course was designed to provide sophomore students a meaningful field experience prior to their transfer to 4-year institutions. However, the course has evolved to also serve a second cohort, working High School science teachers interested in a non-traditional approach to satisfying their professional development requirements.

The methodologies that can be employed to frame these connections are limitless, however we have had good luck with two in particular. The first uses the “human storylines” as conduits to introduce geologic and meteorological concepts. Using excerpts from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Ambitious Guest” faculty tell the story of the Willey Family whose homestead in Crawford Notch was destroyed by a landslide in 1826. The historical, human discussion leads to rich conversation about landslide potential in the Notches and the effect modern climate change may have on the frequency of such events. The second methodology example works in reverse, starting with the geologic narrative and ending with the human story. The students take half a day to hike up to the Carter Notch Hut, along the way recording geologic and meteorological observations. Once they reach the Hut, they meet the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) hut workers and have a chance to independently explore the area. Over dinner, the hut crew shares history of the Appalachian Trail (AT) and hut system and Carter Notches unique geology. In the evening, the class meets on the “Ramparts”, an interesting geologic feature to view a meteor shower and faculty share folklore of the area. The partnership of history, geography and geosciences engages the students, providing unique context to the geoscience content.