Geology: For the Crater Good

Karen Wang, Staff Writer

When you skim the course list next spring semester, Geology may catch your eye. Taking on a different approach to traditional learning, Northwood’s first year Geology class makes for a course you may want to consider adding to your schedule.

The two-semester course is taught by Integrated Science 1 teacher Cathleen Zeleski. Students kick off the first semester by taking part in geocaching, the process of utilizing maps to find  several natural environments throughout Orange County with latitude and longitude. From there, students bring back questions, observations and physical samples of natural material to identify and discuss. 

“Geology is really learned in the field. It’s wherever you go,” Zeleski said. “My teaching method helps students bring back their questions as opposed to me giving them questions. This kind of hands-on investigation contrasts memorizing things and then seeing if you can find it.”

Students also take a step back and refresh on the traditional topics of plate tectonics and volcanoes through a months-long project that centers upon the geology behind a dream home location. As students learn more concepts throughout the semester, they will revisit their special location of choice and add to what goes on in the intricate world beneath it. Students are also noting significant shifts from traditional courses of Integrated Sciences. 

“I found Integrated Sciences to be a bit harder to follow because there’s so many scientific concepts in one,” senior Ayushi Dattagupta said. “However, the Geology course has made it clearer on what we need to know for geology, and how other forces of science, such as chemistry or forces of gravity, work to impact it.”

The second semester features more of the careers one may find in geology, supported by visits from structural engineers, seismic specialists and hydrologists. Plans for possible class trips to the Mojave Desert and international summer trips are underway, although COVID-19 poses an obstacle.

“The best part about geology is the ability to physically experience it through travel in places like Mongolia, Iceland and South Africa,” Zeleski said. “Many students now understand why this is so pertinent. While we learn about earthquakes and plate tectonics, now they get why it actually matters.”