Using Field Labs
This material was originally developed as part of the Carleton College Teaching Activity Collection
through its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.
What is a field lab?Field labs are extended (more than one hour), structured, outdoors, scientific investigations aimed at observing, collecting and recording data. Field labs are related to, but distinct from, other interactive investigations carried out in the field, such as student and student-faculty field research, field trips, field lectures, etc. Examples on this page can be modified for shorter (10-15 minute) field observational experiences; see in particular how to find field sites on your campus. Visit the field labs mini-collection for examples
Why use field labs?Field labs introduce students to complex natural systems, break down barriers among geoscience fields, encourage multiple observations, and introduce students to the geologic history and geography of the area near their campus.
Learn more about the benefits of using field labs
How to use field labs - Logistical and Pedagogical considerations
Length of time available (though field labs can be started in just a few minutes) and accessible areas (though some field labs can be done in practically any outdoor area) are two of the important logistical considerations. Other concerns include access to property, safety, and weather issues. Equipment needs range from items that can be found at any hardware store to specialty items that must be purchased through catalogs or on-line sources.
Logistical considerations - advice for location, transportation, safety, and equipment.
Field labs also invite different pedagogical styles than classroom and indoor lab investigations.
Pedagogical considerations - tips for time considerations, structure, and teaching methods.