From my experience as a student and a professor, field experiences early in the semester provide experiential learning opportunities that can spark interest and understanding that simply can not be matched in the classroom. This is why I designed a field trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) for my Geomorphology class at Case Western Reserve University. Early this fall, after learning about fundamental unifying concepts in geomorphology, weathering, erosion, and soils, we took a trip to CVNP.
This field trip emphasized how to maintain a field book and take detailed observations of study sites. In the field trip guide, I asked students to make sketches, answer several questions, and discuss various topics related to what we covered in class and what we talked about in the field. Topics included: weathering and erosion, river incision, landslides, basin evolution, glaciation and glacial till, numeric and relative dating methods, soil development, and interpretation of past environmental conditions. Exciting highlights include the ~300 million-year-old Sharon Conglomerate shown below with cross-bedded sandstone and honey comb weathering.
I also prepared the students with materials about the field trip site in a brief lab exercise where they downloaded kmz files of United States Geological Survey (USGS) 7.5 minute quadrangle topographic maps from USGS TopoView and geologic maps from the USGS and the Association of American State Geologists (AASG), National Geologic Map Database.
This field trip served as an introduction to geomorphology in the field prior to our next field trip, which was a quantitative analysis of channel geometry and hydraulics of the Chagrin River to investigate potential fish habitat for reintroduction of species of interest.