Physical Geography Team Field Research Project
The objective of this team field research project is for you and a partner to use concepts learned in this class to explain the physical geography of a real world location or topic. Upon choosing a field study site or topic, you and your partner should begin gathering information, then plan and conduct a field trip to the area or many trips to the library, and, finally, prepare a research paper that explains your area’s or topic’s physical geography.
Required Elements: Deadlines:
1) FORMATION OF RESEARCH TEAM (on 3 x 5 card) 5 points Week 2
2) SITE or TOPIC PROPOSAL (on 3 x 5 card) – 5 points Week 3
(see instructions below)
3) OUTLINE (use enclosed form or your own outline) – 15 points Week 6
(submit an outline including sources found
to date, scheduled date for field trip, and collaboration
plan (designate which sections each of you are working on)
4) TEAM FIELD RESEARCH PAPER – 100 points (March 31st)
(Due at beginning of lecture)
Late papers may be turned into the science office. Papers must be dated by secretary. Late papers are marked down 10% per day late.
(Note: 10% penalty = loss of full letter grade!)
Notice: Papers will only be accepted on the above dates and at the specified locations.
Papers not turned in at the beginning of lecture will automatically be considered late,
and any papers not turned in by FOUR days after due date will not be accepted under
any circumstance (weekends count as days too).
THIS PROJECT IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR GRADE IN THIS COURSE – DON’T DELAY: FIND A PARTNER AND GET STARTED NOW!
FORMATION OF RESEARCH TEAM: Teams need to submit names to instructor. If you have not yet found a partner, you will have the opportunity to do so at the end of class.
SITE PROPOSAL INSTRUCTIONS: Together select three possible locations you would like to visit and research for your physical geography field project. Then, on a 3 x 5 index card, A) list both of your names, B) rank your three proposed field trip destinations (1st, 2nd, 3rd choice), and C) turn your team’s 3 x 5 card in for my approval (see deadline above). Note: since every team must select a unique location or topic, it may not be possible for me to grant your first choice. If two teams pick identical first choice destinations or topics, the team who turned in their site proposal first will have dibs on it. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of great places to choose—thus, it should not be too difficult to come up with at least three interesting places you would like to visit and study.
Once your destination has been approved, get started! Make sure that your trip is feasible in terms of transportation, time, and costs and that both you and your partner can go on the trip together (this is required!). If you don’t have a lot of time, stay close to home. If you have weekends free and a car, you can go a lot further. But use common sense (i.e., don’t try to visit Death Valley in a day!). If you and your partner do not have transportation, you can easily do your field trip in the Sacramento area. Bus or Amtrak service will also deliver you to many destinations around the state.
FORMAT: Using information gathered at the site (personal observations, visitor’s brochures, interviews, your own indigenous knowledge, etc.) as well as information researched before and after your trip from sources such as the Internet, atlases, books, state, county, park, or local government agencies, etc., you and your partner are to write a field research paper. Your paper must include the following sections (note: organize your paper using these section headings):
a. geographic location: relative and absolute location, elevation range, and remember to include at least one map!
b. earth-sun relationships: describe the seasonal variation in: 1) mean insolation receipt (see
California Atlas), 2) sun angle (ANS for the 4 dates we learned), and 3) changing daylength. Explain how your area’s geographic location influences each of the above factors. You should also take into account the slope of your site and how that might influence insolation. Graphing this data is encouraged.
c. weather/climate: describe the weather and climate (give Köppen classification) of your area. A climograph would bea good addition to your paper here.
Discuss how its geographic location relates to its seasonal pattern of air pressure, wind,
temperature, precipitation, humidity, cloud cover, etc. Discuss Hawaian High influence.
c. hydrology: describe the surface and subsurface water resources in your area (lakes, rivers,
streams, groundwater reservoirs, etc.) Does the area experience an average annual water
deficit or surplus? (see California Atlas) Explain why.
e. geology/geomorphology: identify which physiographic region your study site is in(CA Atlas), describe
the major rock types and age (see CA Geology map) found there, and explain how the area’s
dominant landform(s) evolved. Explaination should go back at least 130mya.
f. natural hazards: identify all natural hazards affecting your area (e.g., earthquakes, volcanism, landslides, flooding, dangerous animals and plants fire, drought, etc.). Explain why your area is prone to these hazards.
g. vegetation type/patterns: identify the dominant plant communities found in the area. Are
they native or introduced (exotic) species? What factors enable these plants to grow here?
h. soil: identify the dominant soil type(s). Series names and charactoristics for top two or three series recommended. What factors have contributed to the formation of this soil type? How has the soil type influenced the area’s biogeography? Human land use?
b. wildlife: identify the dominant native or introduced (exotic) species found in your area. Why are these species found here? What factors make this habitat suitable for them? Use an appendix if you have a complete list.
j. human impact/land use: specify how humans have used and impacted the physical
environment at your site both historically and at present. How do you foresee humans using and impacting this area in the future?
Consider that you and your partner are a professional consultant team hired to research and write a visitor’s guide explaining the physical geography of your selected field study site. Remember that your team’s grade depends on the quality of work that each of you contribute; this means you both must share equally in the planning, research, and writing of your project. Don’t let a partner trick you into doing all the work! If it becomes evident that your partner is not pulling his/her fair share, don’t waste valuable time. Cut him/her loose so that you will have time to finish the project yourself.
GRADING: This assignment accounts for 20% of your final grade in the course. Attached is a grade sheet with checklist (for your convenience) which must be turned in as the cover page for your project. Be sure to use the checklist prior to turning in your paper to avoid unnecessary point deductions for failing to follow the instructions. I will evaluate your paper according to its overall quality in terms of content, evidence of critical thinking and analysis, presentation style (grammar, clarity, format, neatness) and inclusion of supplemental information (photos, maps, samples, etc.).
1) The body of your paper must be10 to 12 typewritten, double-spaced pages in length. Use 12 pt. font size and leave a 1″ margin on all sides. Your bibliography and any maps, figures, or diagrams will be considered extra pages. Your paper must be stapled and paginated and include at least one map, proof of your site visit, as well as photographs of your region. Make sure you turn in the evaluation sheet with your report! Please turn in the above format section a – j with the evaluation sheet.
2) You must collect information from at least three different reference sources. Every figure, diagram, table, photo, or map included in your paper must be numbered, titled or captioned, and mentioned in the text (ex. “See Figure 1 in Appendix A”)
3) Make sure you cite your sources appropriately in the text. Failure to acknowledge your sources properly is called plagiarism and is considered by all colleges and universities to be a crime the equivalent of stealing someone else’s possessions. If you do not know how to properly cite sources in academic writing, consult a writer’s reference manual, the CRC library’s handout, or ask me. Note that all photocopied material (maps or diagrams) you include must have their source clearly identified on them and the source must also be listed in the bibliography. Be sure to ask questions if you are uncertain how to cite reference material. It is better to be safe than sorry!
4) Do your own thinking and do your own writing! This paper must be the original work of you and your partner. I want each of you to express what you learn in your own words. Failure to do so will be grounds for a zero on this assignment.
5) Include an alphabetized bibliography at the end of your paper. This must include all materials cited in your paper, including the sources of any material you photocopy (maps, diagrams, etc.). Give the complete reference citation (including author’s full name, year, title, publisher, place of publication, etc.) If you are uncertain how to properly format a bibliography, consult a writer’s reference manual or a reference librarian in CRC’s library.
RESOURCES: The Atlas of California as well as California Patterns: A Geographical and Historical Atlas by David Hornbeck will be very useful to you. There are 4 copies of the Atlas of California on 2-hour reserve in the CRC Library and they are also available for drop-in use in the Geography Lab . Other resources include your textbook, local government agencies, and USGS 7.5 minute topographic maps. If any natural history guidebooks have been written on your area, they often provide excellent general reference material. Most state/federal parks have visitor’s centers and/or ranger station personnel who can provide a further wealth of information (note: personal interviews are an excellent way to gather information about your site. But remember, if you use information gathered from an interview, you need to cite the interviewee in your paper and list the interview as a reference in your bibliography (include interview date, name, title/position, and place of interview).
Also, don’t forget about the Internet as a reference source – there are many federal/state Web sites with all sorts of data on climate, vegetation, water resources, wildlife species, etc. for locations all over the state. The CRC library has handouts giving information on how to cite Internet sources in your paper and bibliography. You can access the Internet in the CRC library and in the computer lab in the Business/Social Science Area. If you don’t know how to use the Internet, ask a friend to show you or stop by the information desk in the library and ask for help.
PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY TEAM RESEARCH PROJECT: EVALUATION REPORT
IMPORTANT: This page MUST be attached to the top of your research paper when you turn it in.
PRE-COMPLETION CHECKLIST with MANDATORY DEDUCTIONS (for your use)
10-12 pages of essay, double-spaced (5 pts) correct due date and time (10 pts)
typewritten, 12 pt. font, 1-inch margins (5 pts) proper use of citations in text (5 pts)
proofed for content & grammar (5 pts) all maps/photos/figures titled & mentioned
stapled or appropriately bound (3 pts) in text (3 pts)
pages numbered (3 pts) bibliography attached and properly
this cover page turned in w/paper (3 pts) formatted (5 pts)
proof of site visit (ex. personal photos, dated
receipt, etc.) (10 pts)
WRITING (25 pts possible) (for Instructor’s use)
outstanding: excellent grammar and syntax; clear, concise, polished! (22.5-25 pts)
very good: appropriate for this assignment but requires more polish to be acceptable in both upper division
college courses and the workplace (20-22 pts)
satisfactory: appropriate for this assignment but grammar, syntax, and sentence structure need revision; take
or consider repeating English Composition (17.5-19.5pts)
improvement necessary: grammar and syntax need significant improvement; take or repeat English
Composition, persevere and improve this important communication skill (15-17 pts)
unsatisfactory: enroll in remedial English Composition and don’t get discouraged; writing is
a difficult but obtainable skill (12.5-14.5 pts)
CONTENT (75 pts. possible) (for Instructor’s use)
geographic location earth/sun weather/climate hydrology geology/geomorphology
natural hazards vegetation soil wildlife human impact/land use
(+) = well developed discussion, (√) = adequate discussion, (-) = needs further development (o) = not covered
outstanding: well-researched and logically presented; your superior effort shines through! (67.5 -75 pts)
very good: you followed the assignment closely and have covered all, or most, of the required material,
but you have made a few errors and/or have failed to make some important connections (60-67 pts)
satisfactory: acceptable college level achievement; continue upgrading skills in future assignments
improvement necessary: incomplete sections, some factual errors, more integration of course material
needed with your data (45-52 pts)
unsatisfactory: incomplete or missing sections, factual errors, conclusions not supported by data;
overwhelming evidence of sloppiness suggests that you can do a much better job (37.5-44.5 pts)
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS (see comments on essay also)
Geography 300 – 15 points Name1:
Team Field Research Project Outline
Study Site: Field Trip Date:
I. Introduction (Author: )
II. Geographic Location (Author: )
III. Earth/Sun Relationships (Author: )
IV. Weather/Climate (Author: )
V. Hydrology (Author: )
VI. Geology/Geomorphology (Author: )
VII. Natural Hazards (Author: )
VIII. Vegetation (Author: )
IX. Soils (Author: )
X. Wildlife (Author: )
XI. Human Impact/Land Use (Author: )
XII. Conclusion (Author: )
APPENDIX (maps, figures, photos, etc. – or, alternatively, you can include these in the text)
BIBLIOGRAPHY (correct format and alphabetized)
Geog 300– Team Field Research Project
Suggested Project Timeline (for your use)
Date of Planning Meeting #1: Week 3-4 (as soon as possible)
(Purpose: Decide on a field study site, decide which sections of the project each of you will research and write, select a field trip date, exchange phone numbers/email addresses for future communication, set up future meeting dates). One partner should call the site to set up an interview, if possible.
Date of Planning Meeting #2: Week 5
(Purpose: Exchange ideas and information found to date, discuss ways to locate further information)
Internet search should have been completed by this time. Sources found and ready. Complete outline. Set time to have completed rough draft.
Date to Exchange Rough Drafts: Week 7 (three weeks before deadline)
(Purpose: exchange and discuss rough drafts, identify weak areas and decide how to strengthen them, discuss what figures, maps, and photos to include in your project) USE THE FORMAT SECTION TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE INCLUDED EVERYTHING!
Date to Exchange Final Drafts: Week 8 (2 weeks before deadline)
(Purpose: Make sure all sections have been covered and all supporting materials have been gathered (figures, maps, photos, etc.), decide who is going to print the final copy of the report)
Date to Proofread Final Report: Week 9 (1 week before deadline)
(Purpose: Two sets of eyes are better than one! Proofread the final report carefully, using the “Evaluation Report” checklist to make sure you have done everything correctly.
Project Deadline: March 31st________
(Note: make sure you have stapled the “Evaluation Report” and the format section a-j to the top of the report prior to turning it in)
Geog300 – Physical Geography
Need a Field Study Site?
Below is a partial list of suitable places selected by past physical geography students for the Team Field Research Project. This is not an exhaustive list—there are literally hundreds of other great places in California to go visit and learn about physical geography! So, either pick some place of interest from the list below or pick some place new – the choice is yours!
Alcatraz Island State Park American River (many locations)
American River Parkway Angel Island State Park
Apple Hill Auburn Recreational Park
Sac Nat. Wildlife Refuge Audubon Canyon
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Black Diamond Mines Preserve Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Calistoga Cancun, Mexico
Coloma State Park Cosumnes River Preserve
Delta Donner Lake
Feather River Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
Half Moon Bay Jackson
Laguna Creek Lake Almanor
Lake Berryessa Lake Tahoe (Taylor Creek)
Mono Lake Mt. Diablo State Park
Mt. Haleakala State Park, Maui Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mt. Tamalpais State Park Muir Woods National Monument
Napa Valley (many locations) Nimbus Dam Area (American River)
Oroville Dam (Feather River) Pinnacles National Monument
Point Reyes National Scenic Seashore Putah Creek
Rancho Seco Park Sacramento River
Salt Point State Park San Francisco Bay Area (many locations)
Lake Tahoe Stinson Beach
Stone Lakes Wildlife Refuge Sutter Buttes (see me if interested)
Sutter National Wildlife Refuge Tilden Regional Preserve
Yolo Bypass Yosemite National Park
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