Teach the Earth > Introductory Courses > Virtual Workshop 2014 > Course Descriptions > Geology of Washington

Geology of Washington

Nick Zentner,
Central Washington University


Fundamentals of geology applied to the rich catalog of Washington Geology.

Course URL: http://www.geology.cwu.edu/facstaff/nick/g103/
Course Type:
Entry Level:Physical Geology

Course Size:

Course Format:
Students enroll in separate lecture and lab components. The lecture is taught by the professor and the lab is taught by TAs.

Institution Type:
University with graduate programs, primarily masters programs

Course Context:

No pre-reqs for GEOL 103. GEOL 101 LAB is required for Geology of Washington lectures. Students that want to major coming from Quakes & Volcanoes and Env Geology (lectures that do not have a lab) - are asked to take the GEOL 101 LAB solo during the next quarter.

In your department, do majors and non-majors take separate introductory courses?

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?

Course Content:

Our GEOL 101 LABS are built around 4 two-hour field trips to exciting local geology. Within 20 miles from campus, we have a river canyon, a set of terraces, lahar deposits, and basalt flows.

In Geology of Washington lectures, there is a heavy emphasis on our rich catalog of Washington Geology. Our aim is to use local examples as much as possible to make the content relevant to our students. Most of our students are from Washington - and will likely live in the region in the future.

Course Goals:

  • Students will be able to master a wide range of physical geology content.
  • Students will be able to practice data collection separate from interpretation consistently in a field setting.
  • Students will be inspired to travel in Washington, understand how science works, and will develop a greater appreciation for natural systems.
What are the main features of the course that help students achieve these goals?
Geology of Washington is lecture-based, with a large collection of custom-made videos filmed on location at various Washington locations. Each lecture is mix of chalkboard drawing, photos, and short video clips. Each lecture contains at least one question that involves problem-solving as a group by the class. The discussions model the scientific method.


Two midterms and a final exam.


103 Wint2014 courseinfo (Acrobat (PDF) 45kB Feb25 14)

Teaching Materials:

custom online textbook

Custom-made lab manual built around 4 field trips.

References and Notes:

Other Supporting Materials:
lecture schedule (Acrobat (PDF) 33kB Feb25 14)

Nick's letter to GEOL 103 students (Acrobat (PDF) 177kB Feb25 14)