Learn in the classroom, the lab and the field

Students in Earth Sciences spend 40 per cent of their time hands-on

A rolling stone gathers no moss, and neither does a geology class.

Students studying earth sciences at the University of New Brunswick waste no time getting their hands on the tools and topics they’re learning about.

Emphasis on experiential learning

Jennifer Adam, a fifth-year earth sciences student at UNB Fredericton, was able to put her freshly learned knowledge to the test the same week she studied it. At UNB, as soon as a topic is broached in class, students are touching the rocks and using the instruments they just learned about.

“It’s such a visual experience and it enhances what we learn in the lecture. You can feel and touch and use your magnifying glass on the rocks you’re going to be working with in your career,” Ms. Adam said.

About 40 per cent of the time spent in the earth sciences program is hands-on, experiential learning. Whether it’s in the lab, in the field, or on an international study, earth sciences students get their hands dirty.

Fieldwork across the east coast and abroad

A low student-professor ratio means students get the full earth sciences experience, no matter the subject or the location. Each year, earth sciences students go through intensive field schools, which provide an opportunity to learn how to be a geologist. A typical undergraduate student experiences 10 to 12 weeks of fieldwork before they graduate.

Starting in second year, the schools take place across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, capped off by a two-week field school in Europe. Ms. Adam’s class had the chance to study in Iceland.

“We were able to spend two weeks studying what most tourists wouldn’t be able to see,” she said. “It really rounded out my whole education and understanding of what geology is.”

The European field school is heavily subsidized by sponsors, allowing students to enhance their education through a one-of-a-kind experience without being limited by financial barriers.

Innovative career opportunities

The combination of in-class and experiential learning uniquely prepare students for their future careers in a number of fields. Ms. Adam plans to study environmental law following graduation and having in-depth, practical knowledge of earth sciences will give her an edge.

“We spend so much time physically interacting with what we’re learning about. Because of that, UNB has one of the best earth sciences programs around,” Ms. Adam said.

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