Using the Great Outdoors, at least locally

In this section I show some examples of using my location, i.e. campus, for student projects, in hopes of giving you some ideas on how you might use your own school grounds or nearby areas to get the students outside observing, measuring, and thinking scientifically.

A. Building materials: natural and human-made as analogs for natural materials

  1. students make observations and interpret what processes were involved in their formation
  2. processes: mineral and rock formation; weathering processes; surface processes of water (erosion: transport and deposition of materials); gravity (mass wasting and its affects on human occupation of the surface)

Campus Field Trip

K. Fryer, June 2001

Directions: This is a field trip to give you a chance to observe and try to identify rock materials and the results of geological processes, in the field, albeit close to home.

You will describe and identify the geological materials found and used in these campus locations, and interpret the geological processes and results of processes observable in the various locations. (Of course, this can be adapted to your immediate vicinity)


  1. Stewart Hall
    • Building “Stone” – If this were a naturally formed rock, what would it be?
  2. Bigelow-Rice
    • Foundation Stones – What rock family or families are represented here? How many different rock types?
  3. Phillips Hall
    • Building Stones – What biological processes are represented in these rocks?
  4. Sulfur Spring
    • Building Stone – Spring Action – What processes involving groundwater can be discerned by your various senses here at the spring?
  5. Boulder on path west of spring – What rock family does this rock belong to? What aspect of texture tells you where this rock probably formed?
  6. Merrick Hall
    • Building Stone – Erratic on East Side
    • Roof – Why was this rock type commonly used for roofing at the time this building was erected?
    • Steps at Southwest Corner – What surface processes make this rock a poor choice for this location? [frost wedging of shale]
  7. University Hall
    • Building Stone –
  8. Delaware Run
    • Boulders –
    • Stream Processes –
    • Mass Wasting Processes – Why was it necessary to replace the hundred-year-old stone wall with a concrete retaining wall? [soil creep]
    • Predict what differences you might see when you return for your 50th reunion.
  9. Humphrey Hall
    • Front Steps Stone –
    • Building Stone – [While this stone appears to be sandstone, a few drops of dilute HCl demonstrate that it is a limestone.]
  10. Sturges Hall
    • Foundation Stone –
    • Building Stone (door area) –

Other possible activities involving stream processes include:

  1. Measure stream velocity (measure time taken for a float to traverse a measured distance of stream).
  2. Determine stream discharge: estimate cross-sectional area of stream discharge (ft3/sec) = cross-sectional area (ft2) x stream velocity (ft/sec)

B. Mapping project

  1. map school grounds by Pace and Compass
    • involves map scale; measurement; orientation; communication

Pace and Compass Map

K. Fryer, June 2001

Objective: To produce a map by pace and compass technique.

Equipment: Compass, pair of feet, paper affixed to map/clip board, engineers scale (inches divided into tenths) and protractor, hard pencil, soft eraser, field notebook, calculator.

Procedure: Work in teams of two to facilitate the collection of data. Bearings and distances should be determined twice; this can be done twice by one member or once by each member of the team as is most efficient for each situation. Where the two determinations are sufficiently different, a third measurement should be made. The data used should be the average of the two best measurements. Organize data collection to be as efficient as possible. You will make your own choice of stations (as a team). Collect the data for and plot the map boundary first. Then collect the data for the interior features. Plot the interior features “in the field”.

Each person makes her/his own map; only data collection is shared.

Components of Map:

  1. Boundaries of map: The map will cover the main part of the academic campus.

    The boundaries are: Sandusky Street, Delaware Run, Henry Street, path on south side of Stewart Hall, and campus road.

  2. Features to include on map: Locations and dimensions of the eight buildings within the map boundary, with drafted building names within the building outlines;
    1. Main paths: take “average” bearing for path segments and “eyeball” in the curves;
    2. Choice: Choose to include some other features on your map, as time and inclination dictates (eg. lampposts). Locate these features by multiple bearing and/or resection technique.

Map Presentation:

  • Outline of map area, including station markers, as solid line;
  • Building outlines; Building names inside outlines;
  • Paths, using smaller pen size than used for outline;
  • Interior features using symbols of choice;
  • Other map information: title, name, date, true north and magnetic declination, bar scale, legend containing all symbols, lines, etc. used on map.
  • Locations:
    • top center: title
    • bottom left: name and date
    • bottom left of center: north arrows and declination
    • bottom center: bar scale
    • bottom right: legend