GALLERY: Students head north for field research

With spring comes a rite of passage for senior students in Brock’s Department of Earth Sciences.

On the day after exams end, a group of eager learners head north on an experiential education trek, applying classroom knowledge to field research in the Earth Sciences 3P99 Field Camp — Solid Earth course.

This year’s trip recently took 11 students to Charlton Lake Camp, near Killarney Ont., where they spent 10 days examining sedimentary and igneous rocks that are up to 2.5 billion years old, and learning important skills that are required for Earth Sciences jobs in government and industry.

Professor Frank Fueten, who co-led the outing with Professor Nigel Blamey, said the experiential learning opportunities the trip provides extend well beyond the incredibly diverse selection of rocks the students encounter.

“Many years, we take students who have never been north of Barrie,” he said, “and staying in cabins can be a fun adjustment for them.”

Fueten also emphasized that becoming used to life in the field is an important skill for many earth scientists.

“Many of our graduates end up working for small companies where you fly in and stay in a camp setting for weeks at a time,” he said.

The unique course has been running for more than two decades and highlights Brock’s long history of field-research-based experiential education. It also serves as the Introductory Field Technique component of the students’ Professional Geoscientist (PGeo) training.

While in the field, the class gains hands-on experience mapping rocks, producing maps and writing a final report on deadline.

In spite of the the 12-hour days, some students find the most fatiguing aspect of the course to be the final written report, which is due on the trip’s last morning.

Though they are given time each day to work on the assignment, Fueten noted that it’s not uncommon for a few members of the course to be up a bit late on the last night finishing their writing while learning the important lesson of a hard deadline.

“It’s usually pretty quiet in the van on the way home,” he chuckled.

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