Colorado Plateau Trip
(Three unit "Colorado Plateau" Field Studies Institute ticket # 7009)
(Two unit "National Parks" Field Studies Institute ticket # 7013)
(Required to sign up for both ticket numbers)

Phys Sci 159, Summer 2005, May 28 - June 12, 2005 (Two Weeks)
Contact instructors immediately to reserve your spot on the trip!
 (must be registered by April 29, late registration possible only with instructor's permission)

Erin O'Connor
922-6966 x3496
Office: M-303
Hours: as posted
Jeff Meyer
922-6966 x3762
Office: M-306
Hours: by appt

(on-line information subject to change -- always check for updates posted on the web)

Field Course Web-Site:

Be sure to review the following on-line documents
Field Trip Itinerary (and daily schedule), Student Topic List and Student Job List
 Field Trip Equipment ListGeologic Time ScaleStudent Assistance Grants,

Be sure to turn in the following required forms at the pre-trip meeting
AHC Liability Waiver and Medical Release
Field Trip Emergency Information & Student Educational Profile

You will be given the following Guidebooks at our Pre-Trip Meeting
Colorado Plateau Geo Guidebook
Colorado Plateau Astro Guidebook

Required Pre-Trip Orientation Meetings
Friday May 20 (4 - 6 pm) and Friday May 27 (2 - 4 pm), at the Santa Maria Campus Physics Lab M28
Leave Saturday May 28 (7 am sharp, be there at 6:30 to load up)

(All students participating in this field trip must attend these orientation meetings)
At these meetings we will go over the trip logistics in detail. See Erin OConnor or Jeff Meyer prior to these meetings if you have an unalterable schedule conflict. If you do not attend these meetings and have not made other arrangements with the instructor, you will be dropped from the course.

PhysSci 159 Courses (5 units): Intensive field study experiences in introducing students to the earth, physical, and space sciences of the Colorado Plateau Physiographic Region.

Prerequisites: Limitation on Enrollment - completion of course application and procedures
Advisory: Concurrent or previous enrollment in college-level life or physical science course.

TEXT: Field Guide Book, Geologic History of Utah by Lihi F. Hintze, Edmunds Start Chart, and Students Notebook and materials (all available at the AHC bookstore). The guidebook may not be available until just before the course begins.  Details will be given at the pre-trip meeting.

Course Description

This is a two-week field trip to study the natural and physical sciences, geology and earth sciences, astronomy and space sciences of the Colorado Plateau. The Colorado Plateau region contains some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere. Many of the nation's most famous national parks are located in this region. The rocks of the area reveal the geologic history of the western United States over the past few billion years. By studying the rocks and the processes that formed them, we will be able to piece together this history. In addition, we will see numerous examples of the geologic and hydrologic processes that are actively shaping the plateau region today.

This is a 3-unit academic course which will require your active participation both during the day and sometimes in the evening. You will be expected to take neat and complete field notes, and to prepare for quizzes each morning. You will also be expected to view a pre-trip video and to know the geologic time scale before we depart on the trip.

How to Sign Up:

  1. Pick up the supplied information packet from Erin O'Connor or Jeff Meyer and obtain a signed add card authorizing you to register for the course.
  2. Fill out all registration forms for the course as you would any other course here at AHC (don't forget your signed add card), plus the Student Info form and Medical Release Form.  Return all completed forms to Erin (M303), Jeff (M32F), or our department secretary (M100).  Submitting your registration materials does not guarantee your space.  Registration subject to enrolment restrictions and available space.  You must complete all application steps to qualify for the trip. If you withdraw from the course, your space is not transferable.
  3. All forms must be filled out and a check attached ($225 plus registration fees).  Following is a description of how to calculate the exact amount needed to register.  For most students the total will be $370 ($225 for food/camping, $26/unit for 5 units, $10 health fee, $1/unit for 5 units student center fee).  Out of state students will need to add an additional $755 ($151/unit for 5 units).  Students who qualify for financial aid may not need to pay the registration fees.  In that case, we only need the required $225 for food/camping.  You may also apply for a student assistance grant to help with the $225.  Should a grant be awarded, you may be reimbursed fully and/or partially.

  4. Attend the mandatory orientation meetings on Fri 5/20 4-6 pm, and Fri 5/27 2-4 pm; or see Erin O’Connor or Jeff Meyer in advance if you will be unable to attend.
  5. Watch the required pre-trip videos on reserve in the Learning Resource Center of the AHC main campus library.
  6. Bring your packed bags (pack lightly) to campus 2 pm on Friday May 27 for pre-packing.
  7. Bring your day pack and a big sack lunch to campus at 6:30 am on Sat May 28.  Bus rolls no later than 7 am.
  8. We will return to campus on Sunday June 12, approximately 9 pm. Be prepared to spend one hour for clean up of school vehicles and equipment. You may phone for a ride when we are done.  Congrats on a great trip!

Required Materials:

Required Pre-Trip Videos:

These videos are available for viewing at the AHC Learning Resource Center located in the AHC Santa Maria Campus Library.

These videos should be viewed before leaving on the trip. If you will not have the opportunity to do so before our departure, you must watch the videos upon our return and you will be required to submit a written report for each one. However, you will benefit from having seen the videos prior to our departure. No written report is required from those who see the videos before the trip.

Instructional Staff:

AHC:     Erin O’Connor, Jeff Meyer
               Other Faculty and Staff may also be joining us

Support Staff:
Faculty, staff, and our crew of trip veterans will take on the job of organizing and supervising the logistics of our daily camp setups. We will all need to work together to run a smooth show where no one goes hungry. We will need your assistance. Work crews will be organized, but always feel free to volunteer your help to lend a hand at any time.

Trip Cost:   $250 lab fee + registration fees.  Limited funding for Student Assistance Grants available.  Check with the instructors to submit an application if interested.

Course Credit and Grading:
You will receive two units of credit for taking this field studies course. Students taking the course Pass/Fail will not be required to complete all supplemental readings and may choose to opt out of taking the final exam given that they are in good academic standing upon our return.  Grades are based on the following:

Video 10%
Participation 20%
Quizzes 20%
Field Trip Notebook 20%
Field Presentation 10%
Supplemental Readings 10%
Final Exam 10%

Quizzes are given each morning in camp. The first quiz will include knowing the Geologic Time Scale (supplied with these materials). Completed field trip notebooks are turned in the last day and returned to you before you get off the bus upon our return to Santa Maria (or shortly thereafter). If you are taking the class for a grade, supplemental readings and videos will be required and a final exam must be taken within one week of our return.

Field Presentation:
All students will be expected to prepare a short field presentation (10-15 minutes or so) on a particular topic of their choosing. The topic must be cleared with the instructor in advance. Although students are encouraged to begin researching their topic before the trip leaves, literature will be available during the trip from which to prepare your short talk.

Instructional Materials:
Be sure to bring a notebook, paper, pens, pencils (with mechanical sharpener), and colored pencils (for geologic drawings and illustrations). No skills or prior knowledge in the physical sciences are needed for success in this course. Only a desire to learn and a willingness to participate.

Work Crews:
We will all be called upon to help prepare meals and for basic logistical support. This is an opportunity for us to work together in contributing towards the field trip experience for our collective desert traveling companions and community. A schedule of your assigned duties will be given out the day we leave.

Field Trip Notebook:

The field trip notebook is an important part of your grade where you will develop skills in documenting and recording what you have learned for future reference. You will need colored pens, pencils, and any other writing tools necessary to help you prepare a quality record of what transpires out in the field. Also, students have sometimes integrated their own personal photographs into their field notebooks. This provides a great visual reminder of each locality.

Interactive Web Page: (
An important component of the course is an exciting project that allows us to prepare web pages while en-route during the weeklong course. Students will prepare and upload digital images and information gathered during our fieldstudies trip via cellular modem from remote camping areas. We hope to promote this new program to show how computer and cell phone technology can be used to effectively supplement instruction and curricula in the field and provide information and data access to students as part of the learning process. This represents the type of information technology that will soon become readily available in field education of the future. Visit our web site and tell us what you think. Have your friends and family send us messages and feedback during our travels.

Important Considerations:

Academic Course: This is an academic course, not a vacation or camp-out or party. We hope to see and learn as much as we can in the short time we have. We will work hard to learn and appreciate the complex geophysical processes that shaped and formed this spectacular landscape and you may return in the future with friends and family to share your new interest, excitement, and knowledge of the area.

Weather: You will be outside at the mercy of extremes in weather. The temperature may be in the 80s or 90s during the day and may drop below freezing at night. The evenings in the field are not like the mild, balmy evenings in Santa Maria. Bring light, compact, all-weather clothing. Most importantly, be sure you have a sleeping bag that is properly rated for outdoor temperatures below freezing. A ground cloth and insulated ground mat are also very important. If you need to borrow gear, sign the lend / borrow sheets at the pre-trip meeting and check to see who has offered items for loan (and call them). We will do everything we can to assure you have the proper equipment if you indicate your needs in advance.

Accommodations: We do not always camp at established campgrounds with modern rest rooms and/or shower facilities. We will make occasional swim stops so that you will have a chance to rinse off, but regular shower facilities will be rare or non-existent. Out-house or Pit toilets are available at most campgrounds.

No Booze, Drugs, or Fireworks (duh…): No alcohol, drugs, or any unlawful activities are permitted at any time during our academic trip. Any such activity puts you, your fellow students, and your instructors at risk of physical harm, litigation, and lawsuits. Absolutely no illegal substances are to be transported in school vehicles.

First Aid, Doctors Information, Insurance Claim Forms: In the event that you should be injured, we need to have all pertinent information, insurance claim forms, and authorization signatures in order to have you treated. School insurance provides only limited and insufficient coverage. You are also required to bring your own personal first aid kit and any medications you may need. Please be aware of all desert dangers, drink lots of fluids, and bring sufficient sun protection and clothing for both the heat and the cold.


For further information or if you have questions, contact us at,

Erin O’Connor  (805) 922-6966 x3496
Jeff Meyer        (805) 922-6966 x3762

We look forward to an exciting, fun-filled, educational experience. Happy camping!


In the event of an emergency during the trip, you may have someone leave a voice mail message for you at 805-922-6966 x3496.  We may also be reached via e-mail at We will attempt to check e-mail during the trip. In an extreme emergency, be sure to contact the Physical Sciences Department (805-922-6966 x3202) so that they may reach us via cellular phone.