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
"I'd even check the weather on the Internet late at night,"
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.
September 9-22, 2002