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  • In the field

    Hydrogeology methods course gives students first-hand experiences.

  • For two weeks in late May, Bill Simpkins, associate professor of geological and atmospheric sciences, watched the weather forecast a little closer each evening.

    "I'd even check the weather on the Internet late at night," he said.

    Simpkins became very interested in the forecast because weather plays havoc with a two-week course that he taught last summer called "Field Methods in Hydrogeology."

    "Rain is a big problem," he said.

    That's because a vast majority of the class time for "Field Methods in Hydrogeology" is spent outside. The geology course serves as an introduction to field methods commonly used in hydrogeologic investigations. Emphasis is placed on in-field, hands-on instruction using state of the art equipment and techniques that are transferable to future employment in a variety of fields.

    "The weather was pretty good this year," Simpkins said. "We were able to be out in the field for the better part of these two weeks."

    This year's course took the students to a variety of locations throughout Central Iowa that are not accessible during the regular school year.

    Students learned about field geophysics at RiverValley Park, conducted pumping tests on two different days at two City of Ames well fields, attended a Department of Natural Resources geoprobe demonstration in West Des Moines, conducted stream gaging at Risdal, and collected data at Peterson Pits.

    Simpkins says that hands-on field experience is essential for the students.

    "All the instruction in pretty much in the field," he said. "They learn by doing, instead of listening to me talk to them.

    "The hands-on experiences they get in the field are the main reason for the course. They need to know how to do these things when they start looking for employment."

    "Field Methods in Hydrogeology" is offered every other summer for two weeks. While Simpkins is the instructor of the course, other faculty members and graduate students in the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences teach portions of the class.

 

Students standing and sitting around city water well
Students knelling and taking water measurements

Students in Peterson Pits taking water measurements

Two female students taking water measurements on the beach with the lake in the background

Around LAS
September 9-22, 2002