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Introductory Field Camp for New Geoscience Majors

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Nick Zentner Central Washington University
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Thinking about majoring in Geology? Let's spend two weeks in beautiful Owens Valley, CA making geologic maps with other students new to geology! Course strengths: basic mapping skills learned, bonding of students entering our program, commitment to Geology major.
GSA Poster (Acrobat (PDF) 39.4MB Nov5 04)

Learning Goals

- mapping complex geologic relationships
- seeing projects through to completion

Geologic Skills:
- plot contact and structural data on maps
- draft maps, cross sections, & strat columns
- learn use of Brunton, stereoscopes, topo maps

Higher Order Thinking Skills:
- infer subsurface geology from surface mapping
- draw conclusions from mapping data

Other Skills:
- develop successful working relationship with mapping partner


Instructional Level:
- early as possible in undergrad geology major

Skills Needed:
- basic college-level intro geology course
- intro geology lab which emphasizes rock identification and map reading

Role of Activity in a Course:
- allows application of GEOL 101 concepts and strengthens bonding of incoming geology students.

Data, Tools and Logistics

Required Tools:
- Brunton, hammer, hand lens, stereoglasses
- easy learning

Logistical Challenges:
- challenging terrain leads to minor injuries
- challenging field projects may lead to insecure students!


Evaluation Goals:
Skills mastered?
Ability to develop sound conclusions from mappable data?

Evaluation Techniques:
Graded projects (3) look for mastery of geologic data collection and interpretation.


Taking potential geology majors down to Owens Valley, California for two weeks each September has hooked many good students for our program. Field mapping at this level is challenging for the students, but the strong feelings of competence, excitement, and belonging override the short-lived discomfort of working hard in the desert!
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