Exploring the Bay Area

Carla Grandy
City College of San Francisco
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This assignment is a do-it-yourself field trip. Students are given the opportunity to visit a local geologic feature and learn something about the origins and evolution of that site.

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This assignment is for an undergraduate introductory physical geography or geology course. (See the course profile page for the geography course that uses this activity.)

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students need to have a basic understanding of plate tectonics, rock types, and geomorphic processes. It will also be helpful for them to have an understanding of local geology and geomorphology so that they have some perspective on their site.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is assigned several weeks before the end of the semester and they are given 3 to 4 weeks to complete it. At that time students have most of the background geology needed to complete the activity, but they have plenty of time to ask questions and find a site.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The goal is that students will learn something about local geology and to put their knowledge of plate tectonics and geomorphology gained in lecture into understanding their local environment.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

The main goal of this activity is the synthesis of ideas.

Other skills goals for this activity

Writing and research skills are also benefits of this exercise.

Description of the activity/assignment

This assignment requires students to visit a local geologic feature. Students choose a field site, visit it and observe features such as weathering, rock type, folding, or faulting. At their field site, they are encouraged to make sketches and take photographs. They will turn in a description of the site, geologic origin, and geomorphologic evolution. This assignment is especially useful for non-majors who may not normally be interested in outdoor activities.

Determining whether students have met the goals

My goal for this assignment is that students get outside and notice the geology around them. I give this as an optional assignment and I assess their performance mostly based on effort as well as their ability to articulate geologic concepts.

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