I’m Kathy Wallace back with an update on field work we having been doing here at UTSC on student field trips in geoscience. I’m now eight months into my PhD studies in Environmental Science working with Dr. Nick Eyles. Two very busy terms have flown by. I have spent my winter weekends hiking the Bruce Trail along the Niagara Escarpment, a spectacular geologic feature.
Over the past two weekends, Dr. Eyles and I have taken students to the Niagara Area for two-day geoscience field trips. We spent the first weekend with a group of first year “Introduction to Planet Earth” students, taking them to places such as the Scarborough Bluffs and the Niagara Gorge. We ended the weekend with a trip through a closed limestone quarry looking and learning about fossils. This was a first time outdoor experience for many of our students who have lived most of their lives in the city. Most of the students who came on our trip were not Environmental Science majors, but study in a mix of disciplines such as languages and business. Many of these students expressed that they had no idea they would enjoy studying environmental science or geology so much. Students were excited about the experience of seeing firsthand how geology has shaped our world.
Our second weekend field trip was with Masters of Environmental Science students from Dr. Eyles’ course about Environmental Challenges in Urban Areas. Although this field trip also went to the Niagara Region, its focus was quite different from the weekend before. These M.Env.Sc. students are preparing for professional careers in Environmental Science and were keen to see and learn about environmental geoscience and its implications in managing the local environment and contaminated sites. The highlight of this adventure was a trip to Love Canal in Niagara Falls, New York; a legendary contaminated site where the understanding of environmental contamination and its effect on people was first realized.
As an environmental geoscientist myself, I see that our fields trips are an important learning opportunity for all of our students, no matter at what stage in their university careers, or what program they are studying.
What’s next? ….Iceland. I’m busy finishing up my end of term work and getting ready to travel in a few weeks as a Teaching Assistant with Dr. Eyles and 20 undergraduate students for our field camp in Iceland. I can’t wait!