Water view of the bluffs of Baraboo Hills

UW-Green Bay science faculty go the extra distance to provide high-impact practices during Covid-19

UW-Green Bay professors and instructors, including John Luczaj (Geoscience, Water Science) is accommodating field trips this season for Natural and Applied Sciences, transforming existing and new trips into virtual interactive experiences because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Spring and Summer 2020, virtual field trips were offered in at least four classes two new excursions are planned for this fall. Students can virtually visit De Pere Lock and Dam, Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, Baraboo Hills and the Metro Boat Launch, to name a few.

John Luczaj
John Luczaj

Modern technology allowed for COVID-19 friendly virtual adaptations of the Geoscience program’s signature field trips. The goal, according to Luczaj, is for students to experience what they might have gotten in an outdoor laboratory or field trip pre-pandemic, and to give them the exposure and confidence to visit the sites on their own one day.

Assistant Prof. Shawn Malone (NAS) and lecturer Bill Jacobson (NAS) are assisting in the creation of the virtual field trips.

Luczaj explains, “Geology of the Lake Superior Region field course (spring ’20), for instance, is normally a four-day field trip in the spring. Students had seven lectures/trips on different topics throughout the region. While not all trips had video associated with them, I was able to incorporate online tools, mapping, and other information into the photo/video part of the trip for an enhanced experience.”

During the summer, Professor Luczaj was able to take his catalog of photos from past field trip stops to incorporate in the online version. For the new Water Science program, he traveled to all field trip stops around Green Bay and was able to record the footage with his cell phone. He recorded his computer screen for relevant website tools like the Great Lakes Dashboard, aerial photographs, and maps to provide videos of things students would not actually see on a bus trip.

Water Science Field Trip Fall 2020

Watch the UW-Green Bay Water Science Field Trip Fall 2020.

“The Water Science trip demonstrates various water related natural and engineered structures in Brown County,” he explains. The trip starts at the De Pere Lock and Dam along the Fox River. A full cycle of operation of the lock is demonstrated so students can see how the boats can pass through. The next few stops describe the East and Fox River systems and associated flooding.  The last stops are at the Metro Boat Launch to show the geography, shipping, and erosion from high water, followed with a discussion on sewage treatment. We make a quick stop at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary to look at their deep irrigation well.”

The new Geoscience Field Trip to the Baraboo Hills trip will cover an overview of the major mountain building events that assembled Wisconsin, how the original sandstone was deposited in Baraboo before it was turned into quartzite, site specific structural geology where students can view structural fabrics on the rocks during folding and tectonic compression and Paleozoic history. Prof. Luczaj mentored Malone, a new addition to the Geoscience program, to highlight the links between familiar tectonic processes from around the world and Wisconsin’s geologic history while introducing him to the program’s field experiences.

Luczaj says that field experiences are critical for students in the department. Keeping COVID-19 in mind, he didn’t want students who were graduating soon to miss out on opportunities they had before the pandemic.

Story by UW-Green Bay Marketing and University Communication intern Charlotte Berg.

Photos submitted by John Luczaj