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Class discussions and field trips

Jiang Li
Department of Civil Engineering
Morgan State University
Author Profile

This activity has benefited from a review and suggestion process as a part of an activity development workshop.

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process as a part of an activity development workshop. Workshop participants were provided with a set of criteria against which they evaluated each others' activities. After the review, the authors developed a plan for revising their activities based on the feedback they received from their peers. To learn more about this review process, see http://serc.carleton.edu/quantskills/review_processes.html#2006.

This page first made public: Jul 11, 2006


The course activity includes three aspects:

  1. Class discussion. Discussion centers on the Darcy law and the Dracy-Gersevanov law, including their main physical difference and applications to aquifer mechanics;
  2. Lab experiments. Lab work focuses on the data collection and interpretation of Lab results from conductivity experiments for aquifer sedimentary material. Quantitative skill is emphasized and embedded in data analyzing, figure plotting, graph interpreting and theory understanding using MS Excel;
  3. Field trips. Field trips allow students to collect data in situ, including aquifer parameters and pumping parameters.

Note: an optional course activity is available to student to evaluate the geological hazard at a large scale (e.g., city subsidence) as independent study through web search and study using GPS or InSAR. The activity should be quantitative using Excel.

Learning Goals

The learning goals of the course activity are:
  1. Realize the physical difference between the Darcy law and the Darcy-Gersevanov law,
  2. Understand the relation between driving force and drag force,
  3. Calculate the data from conductivity tests in the Lab and field using the spread sheet in MS Excel,
  4. Plot curves using graph function provided by MS Excel,
  5. Analyze test results with the built-in tools in MS Excel (e.g. linear regression or curve fitting),
  6. Validate the theoretical flow relation (e.g., the Darcy law) with lab results,
  7. Interpret the physical significance of the Darcy-Gersevanov law and its application to aquifer movement,

Context for Use

The discussion is used for enhancement of students' understanding of physical concepts. Lab activity is designed to improve student's quantitative skills including testing, data collection, and results analysis using Excel. The field trip allows students to compare the data from Lab with that from the field. The designed Lab activity can be used as substitution of homework. Class discussion can be part of the lecture to improve student's understanding of the flow relation.

Description and Teaching Materials

Template for applying Excel to data and graphical analysis.

Teaching Notes and Tips

The template of using MS Excel for data calculating, graph plotting and curve analyzing available on this website is used as an outline for students' learning MS Excel. Students are also instructed how correctly to use and apply these built-in functions in MS Excel to the data analysis and graph interpretation in this course.


The assessment of course activity comprises three components: 1. Peers' review and evaluation for the class discussion. The grades are given by students in a different group. 2. Instructor's grading for the Lab assignment. The instructor's grading is based on the student's Lab performance and quantitative skills. 3. Instructor's grading for the field trip report. The instructor's grading is based on student's understanding the difference of data interpretation between the Lab and field.

References and Resources

Online Excel Tutorial

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