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Mapping field camp's past and present: Exploring a mainstay of geoscience education

In a field like earth science, adventures in the outdoors are commonplace. As this summer's field season comes to a close and the lanterns are extinguished one last time, EARTH Magazine explores the ritual of field camp as geoscientists' rite of passage from classroom learner to a workforce-ready scientist.

Earth science is just that, the study of the Earth. Thorough understanding of the surface expression of textbook concepts helps geoscientists provide protection and valuable resources to society.

Thousands of U.S. college students participate in field camps each year, staying in accommodations varying from lodges with running water to nomadic tent camps — where they backpack into sites in the middle of nowhere to see, experience and comprehend the landforms people take for granted. No longer are students reading books, rather they're reading the rocks.

The history of geology field camps dates back to the days of great explorers and naturalists like John Muir and his contemporaries. Now young men and women gear up and pack out to geologically unique locations nationwide. While traditional skill of mapping rock units and structures onto a blank topographic map still represents a foundational skill set, faculty and industry professionals are finding ways to integrate relevant technology to keep students workforce-ready.

Students leave field camp with a varied toolkit that utilizes colored pencils as much as geophones and GPS. Share in the adventures of thousands in this month's EARTH Magazine cover story at:

Stop by the digital newsstand for full access to explore embargoed Cuba, investigate whether it was a comet or asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, and glimpse into the world of astronaut (and rock star) Commander Chris Hadfield at

Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and the environment news with EARTH magazine online at Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geosciences education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.

Megan Sever | EurekAlert!
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