By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Jan.28, 2102.
While most university students are settling back into their campus classrooms after the holiday break, a group of students from Quest University Canada is engaging in a classroom setting like no other.
The Volcanology class at Quest is Hawaii-bound this month (January 20-30) to explore first-hand how a volcanologist conducts research. The trip is a critical part of Quest’s commitment to experiential learning, and is enabled by the fact that Quest operates on a Block Plan schedule.
While in Hawaii, students will study and practice the tools of experimental and field research, offering an unparalleled hands-on learning opportunity,” says Steve Quane, Physical Sciences Tutor at Quest.
“There is no ‘simulated’ research; the students will be conducting real research on real samples in real field locations. They will use everything from high-tech helium pycnometry to measure density, to a rock hammer to sample an active lava flow. They will acquire the requisite skills and mindset needed to undertake serious research projects of any kind.”
Under the Block Plan, students spend three and a half weeks studying one subject at a time, allowing for faculty to arrange such highly productive trips.
The first part of the course focused on experimental volcanology in which students ran high-temperature laboratory experiments on natural volcanic materials to determine their fundamental characteristics both at Quest and at the Centre for Experimental Study of the Lithosphere (CESL) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in collaboration with the UBC Volcanology and Petrology Laboratory.
In the Big Island of Hawaii, five volcanoes, in different phases of their life cycles, will allow students to witness the evolution of a Hawaiian volcano.
They will observe the volcanic systems from birth (sampling active lava flows) to demise (snorkeling amongst fringing reefs on sinking coastlines). They will conduct fieldwork from sea level to the 14,000-foot peak of Mauna Kea.
In a less exotic but equally valuable Block field trip, a group of third- and fourth-year students recently spent time outside the classroom in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver and within the Gay/Lesbian community of Davie Street, as part of their course Gender, Culture and Identity.