Honors Geology Students go on first field trip


Honors Geology students took their first ever field trip to the Santa Monica Mountains March 6.

The mandatory, full-day trip is very similar to the trip given as a part of UCLA’s Geology curriculum.

The trip serves as a culmination of what the students have studied in the course about the formation of Southern California and the Santa Monica Mountains, geology teacher Wendy Van Norden said.

“At this point, they’ve learned the names of all the rocks. What they want to know is: why is the rock there? What’s the story?”

Students were driven throughout the Santa Monica Mountains in an effort to see all of the rock layers, both on land and by the sea. They visited Corral Canyon and had a picnic lunch atop the Sespe Sandstone, overlooking the ocean. Nearer to the ocean, the students got to see fossils of various marine animals and corals.

“The field trips end up being the most memorable experience for the students,” Van Norden said.

This field trip is in addition to the annual Death Valley two-night overnight, which is also a mandatory trip. Honors Geology visited Death Valley this year over President’s Day weekend, Feb. 16-18. Regular Geology went this past weekend.

The Death Valley trip counts as five percent of the year grade for Honors Geology and is equal to a 100 point test for Regular Geology, with 50 percent of the credit given just for going on the trip and the other 50 percent given through a hard test on the material observed while in Death Valley.

Stopping only for lunch and a few short hikes, Geology students spent one entire day in transit and observed many sights on the way to Death Valley. Over the next two days of the trip, the students visited Zabriski Point, Artist’s Pallete, Salt Creek, and the sand dunes. A last stop was made at Ballarat Ghost Town before the return to the upper school campus.

“The whole idea of a geology field trip is basically to have a good time and to learn, both in equal amounts,” Van Norden said.