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recap on geological/botanical tour

et502's picture

Recap on Geological tour: We started at Pem Arch and walked all the way down the hill. The objective was to follow the course that water drains on our campus to its lowest point, Mill Creek, which is behind Batten House. On the way there, students from the E-Sem pointed out certain kinds of local rocks that were used for buildings or other purposes (Wissahickon Schist for Radnor and Denbigh, Baltimore Nice for Merion) - I was really impressed with how much our groupmates knew about this. They showed us maps of floodplains – how creek-beds and the surrounding areas are formed/changed by regular flooding. So when we got to Mill Creek, the floodplain was more observable/noticeable – we were looking for ways that water had affected the area, and we talked about creeks’ natural winding processes which cause some areas in the floodplain to be higher and others to be lower. I hadn’t put much thought into the importance of water and drainage systems when considering geological formations – but this walk changed my perspective.

Botanical tour: When we got to English House, we ran into Sara, Emma, and Aliza and joined forces going into Morris Woods. I liked re-visiting what we learned in class, and it was nice to have a larger group – sometimes we were together, or split into pairs or groups of three, sometimes I walked on my own. I didn’t realize how much I’d remembered from class on Monday, so it was great to talk through it again. We walked up to the cemetery – thought about whether cleaning it up could be an interesting project for our class (still undecided?)

More thoughts: this informal sharing was a really nice way to bring the classes together; it also made me wonder about motivation and differences between the courses - what is the same about our course of study? Do we do as much writing as the E-Sem is doing? how does age/experience affect engagement in an Eco-Imaginings project? Part of me wishes that we had met earlier in the semester - 

Also: Right before we went into Morris Woods, I saw Bernie Weiner walking towards English House. Bernie is a local horticulturalist and, up until this year, he grew plants in the greenhouse next to Park Science, and sold/gave them to students and staff at Bryn Mawr. I was really upset when he was asked to leave; no one else is using the greenhouse now, so why did he have to pack up all of his plants? Bernie gave me my first plant at Bryn Mawr, took care of my pothos vine during winter break one year, and I’ve talked to him whenever I see him on campus. He’s given advice on how to take care of houseplants, and offered to answer any questions our classes might have -




Smacholdt's picture

A success


As eetong mentioned, one topic that came up a lot on our geological ramble was how the two eco-courses differed. We both wondered if we were covering the same material, just more or less of it, and if the focuses of the classes were similar.

I agree that it would have been cool for our classes to meet earlier in the semester. Maybe in the future the two classes could meet at the beginning of the year to talk a little about creating a syllabus, or some other kind of self-directed learning tool to use for the class. One thing that I always enjoy is being allowed the agency to create (or at least help to create) the syllabus/ pick the readings for a class.

I enjoyed having the opportunity to semi-recreate the ecological walk in Morris woods that our class took. It was cool seeing the interest and genuine enthusiasm of the Esemers as they tried to figure out the differences between the various plants that we pointed out.

Conversely, it was also cool to take a geological ramble with them. I took geology last year and hated it because I was unable to see the direct connection to my own life. This recent tour did more than teach me about rocks, it went further in the cause of grounding my sense of place at Bryn Mawr. I enjoyed learning what each dorm is made of, and a little more about the ecology of campus and where all the water goes. (I had never actually walked back to the stream behind Batten House.)

All in all I would say that our co-ramble was a success and I would definitely recommend it for future classes.