Students taking geology courses have the opportunity to really “dig in” and experience education in the field.
In 1999, an Ice Age mammoth was discovered six feet underground on Principia campus between Rackham Court and Gehner. The area soon became a paleontologic excavation site, presided over by Geology Department chair Dr. Janis Treworgy (C’76). She describes this unique learning opportunity: “Students get valuable hands-on experience excavating for bones and working in the lab to remove the dirt (matrix) from bones already discovered, sometimes finding more bones in the process.” They also have opportunities to reinforce what they’re learning by teaching others, since, as Treworgy notes, “part of the course involves giving tours to school and adult groups that come to visit.”
In the Local Area
Principia is situated in an area rich with geology – on limestone bluffs that are covered with silt and other deposits from the ice age and that overlook the channels and shared floodplain of two major drainage ways in North America; just downriver from a well exposed structural feature; a couple of hours from another major structural feature that exposes igneous rocks and related minerals at the surface.
Educational opportunities often occur beyond the classroom. For example, the Environmental Geology class will visit a surface coal mine to observe mining and reclamation techniques, or the Nonrenewable Resources class can visit a working underground coal mine.
Around the World
Periodically, students also have the opportunity to study geology much farther afield on the popular study abroad program in Mongolia, which Treworgy leads. The group travels to various parts of this diverse country to study different geologic features.