Introduction to Earth and Environmental Science (SIO 50)
SIO 50 is a prerequisite for all of the upper division Earth Science classes at UCSD. Typically, about 50% of the class is comprised of Earth Science majors, while the remainder is students from a wide array of disciplines looking to fulfill general education requirements. The course has a required lab that meets twice a week. Students are introduced to the field in several lab settings and on one weekend field trip (overnight). The class serves as an optional elective for the Marine Biology major and the Environmental Systems major.
In your department, do majors and non-majors take separate introductory courses?
Yes. SIO 10 (The Earth) is a lecture-only class (no lab component) with similar content to SIO 50 (Introduction to Earth and Environmental Science). The content in SIO 50 is an expanded version of what is presented in SIO 10, goes into more depth, and as the class has an added lab-section, the experience is more rigorous. SIO 10 is intended for students with a passing interest in Earth Science; SIO 50 is intended for majors and students desiring a more comprehensive experience.
If students take a non-majors course, and then decide to become a major, do they have to go back and take an additional introductory course?
Yes. We have discussed this at length in our department and have come to the conclusion that students need the lab-based component of SIO 50 and thus must take that class before progressing along in the major regardless of having taken SIO 10.
In lab students receive more hands-on, experiential learning opportunities, including a substantial amount of field experience in the La Jolla area and in the Mojave Desert of southern California (overnight camping trip). Students are required to use critical thinking skills, work with others in groups of various sizes, and utilize and develop quantitative skills. Overall, students are encouraged and taught to sharpen their observational skills with the overall goal of becoming more adept at placing geologic evidence in an appropriate context and unraveling geologic puzzles.
- Identify common earth materials and suggest in what geological settings they would be likely to be found.
- Describe various geologic processes that shape the surface of the earth and the implications these processes have for society, the environment, and the evolution of our planet.
- Assess the extraction and use of various natural resources and the impact these resources have on society.
- Appreciate Earth as a complex, ever-changing system in the context of the vastness of geologic time.
- Recognize the multidisciplinary nature of geology as a science and synthesize geologic knowledge to holistically view, assess, and interpret geologic materials, processes, and situations.
Our major is designed to be significantly field-based, and we try to incorporate field experiences whenever possible. This is true in our introductory class as well as in our upper division classes. We take students out to visit local outcrops and geologic features in lab meetings and conduct a weekend field excursion to visit the Salton Sea, the San Andreas fault, and the Mojave Desert of Southern California.
In addition, the course content is carefully selected and sequenced in such a way as to provide students taking the class with significant breadth of knowledge and concepts in a logical progression, but not in an overwhelmingly or unnecessarily complicated manner. The main objective of the class is to give students an appreciation for the complexity of the Earth as a system and to arm them with the knowledge and skills necessary to move forward (if they so desire) in the Earth Science major. I feel that an understanding of an appropriate level of content and information, coupled with careful emphasis of important concepts, is one of the best ways that we can help students achieve stated learning goals.
I like the organization of the text and I feel that it is the most robust from a content standpoint. Obviously, there is more in the text than can be reasonably covered in a single 10-week quarter. However, I believe that it is the best introductory text out there, and I have tried a number of them.
Laboratory Manual for Introductory Geology 2nd ed, (Ludman and Marshak)
It is more or less paired with the textbook; I like the flow of the chapters and the exercises are pertinent and useful.