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How to use Field Labs - Logistical Tips

Fieldwork with students is easy! Well, not always easy, but the benefits greatly exceed the time needed to work out the details in advance and for follow-up. This page contains tips you'll find useful for organizing the logistics of field labs, assembling the appropriate equipment, and preparing the students. Feel free to skip to the parts of the page you need, using the links below. The advice and information in these pages was written based on the experiences of the Carleton College Geology Department (more info) , where field work at all levels of geoscience has been emphasized for more than forty years.
What students should wear | Safety considerations | Equipment suggestions

Where? - Choosing a Location

Geoscience field labs can be conducted almost anywhere. Clearly, one needs "in situ" exposures if the purpose of the lab is to describe and interpret natural features. But many geoscience teachers use gravel pits, river sediments, facing stones on buildings and other "unnatural" exposures or transported materials to teach concepts in geology. Labs in atmospheric science can be set up outside nearly any building or in any available open space. Almost every outdoor area has trees, soils and microorganisms that students can observe and interpret.

Where? - Getting permission

Many outstanding sites for field labs are on public land. These include road rights-of-way (for roadcuts and outcrops), parks and natural areas and and rivers and streams. Check whether hammering and sample collecting are allowed in parks and similar areas and leave the hammers and shovels behind if they aren't. Also check state and local regulations on whether stream beds and banks are open to public use.

If you want to work on private property, ask for permission from the owner. Your county may have a plat book with a current record of land ownership; this information is also available in local county offices and may be accessible on the Internet.

How Long? - Choosing a Length of Time for the Lab

Scheduled lab times at undergraduate schools typically range from two to five hours. It's obvious that for field labs some of this time will be used going back and forth to the field site. To maximize the amount of time available for observation and data collection, consider the following tips:

More tips for structuring field labs and managing time in the field.

How to get there? - Transportation tips

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