Geologists Lead Field Trip for Champaign Students

On October 25, 2011, scientists at the Illinois State Geological Survey conducted a geology field trip for about 75 fifth grade students at Kickapoo State Park in Vermilion County, Illinois. The work was conducted with funding from a public engagement grant from the University of Illinois Office of Public Engagement. The program, "Curriculum-Based Geology Field Trip for 5th Grade Champaign School Students," served as a pilot for a future geology and earth sciences program based on state science standards to reach all the fifth grade students in Champaign Unit 4 Schools. Over 30 classes from 11 schools (about 700 students) will participate in the program, starting fall 2012. Geologists participating in running the program were Curt Abert, Dan Adomaitis, David Morse, Andrew Phillips, Barbara Stiff, and Joan Crockett. Crockett and Kristin Camp, Science and Health Coordinator in Champaign Schools, are the co-investigators and authors of the grant proposal.

The field guidebook, written by Crockett and Stiff, ultimately will be made available to the public and may be used by schools, scout groups, and others. Portions of the guidebook may also be used to model other field trips to similar geologic settings. Students visited and actively participated in lessons and observations at each stop, including bedrock and glacial outcrops, reclaimed coal strip mine locations and historic markers, and a modern gravel bar on the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River. An erosion and deposition demonstration was conducted on the gravel bar by Stiff. Using cameras purchased with the grant and with field guides, notes, and rock samples from on-site field work at Kickapoo, student teams will prepare reports and conduct extended classroom activities based on their experiences. A splendid educational, enjoyable day was had by all.

The ISGS geologists also contributed in developing new curriculum lessons, which will be used in the classroom in 2012. Materials and lesson activities for study of rocks and minerals, maps, and landforms were prepared by ISGS geologists. The materials include rock samples, a hands-on rock and mineral description and observation lesson, and a photographic resource guide on landforms, which were provided to the Champaign School District by ISGS.