Self-guided Field Trip
Galway is teeming with geological features – in buildings within the city or a little further out at the beaches and cliffs, and also boasts an abundance of zoological and botanical life. This project aims to create one or more field trips that Natural Science students can carry out themselves in and around Galway city. A handbook or webpage will guide the students on this accessible and exciting trip, which will help bring theoretical lecture material to life. The field trip will combine three disciplines of natural science, namely Geology, Zoology and Botany, providing a unique opportunity to see how the disciplines influence each other. Geology will form the backbone of the trip. Depending on the season, the student can add a Zoology and a Botany part to it, which will feature important algae species and certain types of barnacles, crabs etc. Due to high student numbers, field trips can mostly just be carried out for denominated students, and even then it is a hard task to plan the trip and coordinate the whole group. This self-guided field trip makes it possible for every student to get practical experience at a time that suits them. The project group will create a webpage that will contain a mini discussion blog in which students can post additional information, upload pictures they took on their field trip, or correct things which might change over time. Members of the general public who wish to learn more about the geology and biology of the Galway area are also welcome to access the website and go on the field trip.
At this stage of the project a skeleton of the field trip is created. The route is worked out and the different sites representing typical features of Geology, Aquatic Plant Life and Zoology are picked. Photographs of some sites and algae species were taken. However, there are a few uncertainties about the Zoology species, as the field trip should be possible to be carried out all around the year. For that a meeting with a staff member of the Zoology department is planned. A general layout and design for the handbook was created and the next step will be to get feedback from various printing companies cost wise to possibly improve the layout and to get a high number of copies for the handbook. We attended the kick-off event for the EXPLORE projects and were fascinated by the possibilities other groups made use of and when the handbook is created we definitely will try to create an app or iBook so that it is not just possible to go out on the field with a handbook, but as well with a smartphone. For the next period, we hope to have a detailed description of each site and the handbook in a printable version. Also, orders for the instruments should have been done at that stage, so that a test run with two or three students will be possible.
The project is overall going really well and all the time new ideas are coming up. An outside trip is planned to get more footage for the booklet and to get some videos, which can then be put on the homepage. A trip with Prof. Feely is planned as well, which should concentrate on the geology bit of the different stops. It was decided on a GPS system, which will be ordered during the next week, so that the GPS data can be included in the booklet. A meeting was held with the prinitng company in charge and it was decided for the final format, layout and the type of paper and printing to make it as weather resistant as possible. As well all species for the botanical and zoological part are selected by now. The field trip is pretty much worked out. Now it just needs to be filled with pictures and a few other details so that with the second batch of the funding we can start printing.
Since the last report a lot has happened. We received the GPS systems, which now enable us to take exact locations of the sites we want the students to visit. Also a lot of video footage was taken and more is planned. The trip with Prof. Feely was carried out. We walked along the route and found more information to take in and discussed what locations are most important to get the idea across, so that in the booklet it would be concentrated on that. The booklet layout is fixed and some descriptions are already written. In early April we hope to have all footage together, which should enable us to get the booklet finished and send it out for printing.