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Learning Outside the Classroom

Posted: November 10, 2011

Clad in hard hats and safety goggles, I ventured outside the classroom for a trip that took us to a Marcellus shale drilling site, an acid mine drainage creek and a coal strip mine. One of my favorite aspects of the College of Ag Sciences is the opportunities for students to study outside in the field!
Our visit took us to an active coal strip mine

Our visit took us to an active coal strip mine

I’d choose the College of Ag Sciences over any other college at Penn State in a heartbeat. One of the main reasons for my appreciation is the hands-on learning that we as students have the opportunity to participate in. While studying from the text and lectures is a common practice in college, what makes the College of Ag Sciences shine is the ample time spent learning outside the classroom. I feel this time is invaluable and allows us to practically apply our knowledge as well gain the real-world skills we need in the job field. 

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to venture out of the classroom on a day trip with my Environmental Geology class. We learned about natural gas drilling while standing on an actual gas drilling pad, saw the direct evidence of acid mine drainage next to a stream running milky white, and walked through coal pits as we learned about strip coal mining and its effect on the environment.

I have had the opportunity for experiential learning in my other classes as well. For the wetlands class required for my major, a weekly lab in the field--where we directly applied hands-on skills learned in the classroom--was a key component of the course. During my air pollution course, we were able to take a trip to a power plant and tour the stacks to witness firsthand how the pollutants are removed from the air.

Applying concepts learned in the classroom while learning in the field increases my experience and prepares me for many science-related jobs. I can say on my resume and applications that not only did I learn how to sample soil, but I spent a semester in the dirt conducting all the tests that students at other universities might only read about. Learning in the field has boosted my academic success and job eligibility. Thank you, Penn State College of Ag Sciences!

Please check out some of the photos from my Environmental Geology field trip!