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Over the course of the semester, the course covers many earth science topics that are easily observable on a casual but attentive walk through a natural area. Because the course does not have linked labs or field trips, this assignment attempts to get students to put their observation skills and content knowledge to the test by taking a hike and describing four Earth Science features or processes that they observe. These features and processes might include things like weather, streams, hillslope erosion, soil horizons, habitats or ecological succession. When I introduce the assignment I spend 15 minutes discussing different places students might choose to take their hike. I make sure to highlight places near campus that can be reached without a car, as well as county parks that freshmen new to the area might not be aware of. Many students also choose to do the assignment on a weekend visit home to their parents and a favorite park or trail.
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