Story and photos by Terika Kons
Geo Trippin’... no it’s not the latest dance move... it’s not the newest model small car… it is a geography class... a three-day... on the road, geography class to be specific! This field study 1 unit course is taught by Marymount’s Assistant Professor of Geography, Sharon Johnson.

GEO 108 is a three day lab offered to students who opt for hands-on learning in the field that supplements what students are learning in classroom lectures. It’s geography “by the boot” not just “by the book”. The class/road trip consists of a caravan of students, volunteer drivers, Sharon and lots of maps, snacks, and walkie-talkie jokes.

The trip includes visits to the Owens and Death Valleys, the Sierra Nevada and San Gabriel Mountains and more than twenty stops in between. All in three days!

Sharon Johnson - Associate Geography Professor

Sharon has been hosting these labs for 20 years and each year she perfects the trip even more. Students are so fascinated by the trips that many of them come back and volunteer year after year. Students not only get to see some of the most extreme conditions in California first hand, they get both geography and history lessons along the way including a stop at the WWII Manzanar Relocation Camp. GEO 108 gives students a creative and innovative reason to like learning again!

Discover what students have to say about the trip:

“The Death Valley trip was definitely a trip to remember.  I never thought that I would have so much fun just exploring my backdoor.  I never took the time to discover all these beautiful landscapes even though I drive by them all the time.  I really did need this weekend to just get away from the world and observe nature as a whole.  I have recommended to all my friends that they take this lab because it is probably the best memory of Marymount that I will ever have.” 
~ Matthew Fong
“Overall the Death Valley trip was very fulfilling and interesting.  I appreciated the trip because I saw it as finally jumping into the textbook.  There is only so much that can be shown through a book, but when you are there the experience is speechless.  It makes you realize, how small you actually are once you see these vast natural landscapes.  This wan an unforgettable trip that will be remembered because it was unlike anything I have ever experienced before.” 
~ Akeem Mulunarey
“Before my trip to  Death Valley, I was dreading spending a weekend with random classmates and faculty.  How wrong I was.  Not only did I learn about the geographic processes in Death Valley, but also the cultural history behind Death Valley.  Traveling inspired me to come back some day with my family, friends, or even a loved one.  My weekend was an amazing adventure full of laughter, entertainment, and of course facts thrown left and right at us.  Throughout the weekend I had such an admiration for what I was seeing and deeply enjoyed all the stops we made. In the end this trip was a wonderful learning experience and will forever be a memory in my life.” ~ Angelique Ramsingh

My favorite places that we visited on that trip were Fossil Falls and Devil’s Postpile. It was an awesome trip! I still have my report and photos from that trip.  I loved it. - Janice Willcocks ‘ 95

1 comment:

  1. So far, I’ve volunteered for the GEO lab trip 3 times as a driver and I’m still amazed by the majestic scenery at every stop during the field study outing; and there are many stops. The students are taken to locations they normally might not have visited. It starts with the San Gabriel Mountains and travels through places like Redrock Canyon, Death Valley, the Alabama Hills and ending at the momentous Manzanar Relocation Camp. Each destination is just as captivating as it is different. Within miles of each other are mountains naturally colored pink, green & blue; rocky hills that look like layers of golden waves; a lake made of salt; and boulders so huge they seem out of a sci-fi movie.
    Professor Johnson has managed to pack in 3 days a wonderful and remarkable way to showcase geography and demonstrate how extraordinary nature is. Her lectures at each location makes the experience more meaningful as she clarifies why the mountains look painted, how the golden hills were formed, etc. Suddenly, terminologies like sediments, gravel deposits, and erosion aren’t just words; they’ve become part of the experience.
    I highly recommend this field trip for students who want to experience geography hands- on. This is a very rewarding (and fun!) experience.