PHSC 200

Physical Science Field Skills Course to Hawaii


This blog is related to my trip to Hawaii to help establish various components of Physical Science 200 (PHSC 200), a field skills course to be offered by the Physical Sciences Department at Grant MacEwan University starting in the spring of 2014. The primary objective of the course is to provide our Physical Science students with an opportunity to develop practical field skills and enhance their technical writing through performing various experiments and sampling protocols in the three physical sciences: earth science, chemistry and physics. There are three components to the course: (1) an in-class component to prepare and plan for the excursion and to introduce the field techniques in each of the three disciplines, (2) a 2-week field component spent in the field on the island of Hawaii conducting the various physical science field activities, (3) analysis component where students analyze their field data on MacEwan instruments and write a final report.

The island of Hawaii was chosen as the location for the excursion because of its isolated location and unique geology. The island includes some of the earth’s largest mountains: Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa created by one of the few active hot spots on the world and bestowing on Big Island two active volcanoes, which is a dream scenario for any student of geology. Because of its remote location, Hawaii is the perfect setting for the study of atmospheric and oceanic pollution. The thin, clean atmosphere at the summit of Mauna Kea makes it ideal for astronomical observations. It is clear that Big Island is a very special locale from our perspective because of the multidisciplinary synergies that can arise in this environment. Finally, because it is a popular tourist destination, flights and accommodation are relatively inexpensive.

The details of the course proposal are described in the draft document, PHYSICAL SCIENCES FIELD SKILLS COURSE_draft. A version of this document can be accessed by clicking on the document title. For a more current version, please contact the Physical Sciences Department at MacEwan University.

Through fortuitous circumstances (fortuitous for me), I have been assigned the task to take an organizational trip to Hawaii and establish the various field component of PHSC 200 in preparation for the first offering of the course during May and June of next year. On this page I have posted (daily?) blogs documenting my excursion and recording my various undertakings.

Technically, a reader should be able to post comments on the blog posts, but I cannot seem to make that work. If you do make comments or suggestions, you can text me on my cell phone (780-953-1949) as I have purchased a Roger’s roaming plan that includes 40 minutes of talk and unlimited texting (no pictures please).