Field Safety Contract
Field Trip Form


$81,220 (May 2009 data)



Chicago's Environmental Geology
Earth Science 109W, Section 01, Spring 2012



w The outline below will be adjusted daily.  Check frequently for updates!  

Field trips are required class activities.  You must be present and dressed appropriately for the weather.

For daily learning objectives, click the date.  Links will be added weekly as the semester progresses.

Week Class Activities      (Click the date for a list of daily learning objectives!)
  WEDNESDAY (11:00-11:50 am) FRIDAY (11:00 a.m.-1:30 pm)
1 JAN 11  Welcome to Muddy Waters!  Getting to know you.  What is FYE?  What are environmental geology and the Muddy Waters course?  Pre-assessments. JAN 13  Intro to the "H2O: Where Does It Go?" Project.  Field safety contracts.  The water cycle.  How much water fell as snow in the snowstorm? Dress for outdoor work today!
2 JAN 18  How you learn.  Guest presenter:  Katherine Gleiss of the Learning Support Center.  Read Chap. 3 in the CSS book before coming to class today. JAN 20  The water cycle, continued.  Data collection for the H2O project.  Dress for outdoor work today!
3 JAN 25  VIsit from Molly Mansfield, Ronald Williams Library.  How to prepare a project proposal.  Read Chap. 5 and 6 in the CSS book before coming to class today. JAN 27  Academic integrity and plagiarism. Collecting and analyzing rainfall data for the H2O project.  H2O outlines are due via e-mail at 10 a.m.  No need to dress for outdoor work today--we will be indoors, working on your projects. 
4 FEB  1  H2O Project proposals due.  Intro to the "Thirsty City" Project.  Transitions.  Read Chap. 1 and 4 in the CSS book before coming to class today. FEB  3  Lab safety.  Analysis of drinking water: field parameters.  Keeping a field notebook.  Dress for outdoor work today!
5 FEB 8  Water treatment processes.  Drinking water standards.  Letter to yourself due.  NEIU Catalog assignment due.  Colorimetry. FEB 10  Guest presenter from the Academic Advising Office.  The NEIU Rock Wall.  Dress for wall-climbing today!  
6 FEB 15  Measuring chloride, sulfate, and field parameters in tap water. FEB 17  The "Meet with a Professor" assignment is due today.  Field trip to Lake Michigan.  Dress for outdoor work today!
7 FEB 22  Thirsty City project due in text format.  See Assignments page!  Drinking water treatment.  Drinking water standards.  Intro to the "Great Debate" Project.  Basic concepts of sewage treatment.   Read Chap. 10 in the CSS book before coming to class today. FEB 24  Thirsty City project flyer due.  Field trip to sample above/below a sewage treatment plant outfall.  Dress for outdoor work today!
8 FEB 29  Data interpretation, putting measurements in context.  Assignment #6 is due today.    MAR  2  Prepare for the Great Debate.
9 MAR  7  Data interpretation.  Preparing for the confluence trip and for the Great Debate.  Academic Plan is due. MAR  9   Field trip to the confluence.  Dress for outdoor work today!
10 MAR 14   The Great Debate! MAR 16  Intro to the "Do We Need an Ark in Albany Park?" Project.  Field trip to Gompers/Field Park. Dress for outdoor work today!
12 MAR 28  Stream discharge. MAR 30  Field trip to measure discharge at Irene Hernandez picnic area.  Dress for outdoor work today!  Last day to drop a course.
13 APR  4  Gathering online stream discharge data.  Intro to MyPlan. APR  6  Flood frequency and rating curves.   
14 APR 11  Rating curves.    APR 13    Flood Insurance Rate Maps.  Intro to the "Balancing Act" Project.  NEIU Student Research Symposium.
15 APR 18  Ark in the Park poster presentation due.  Assignment #9 due.    APR 20  Balancing Act: maps and calculations.  Visit to the SCSE.  
16 APR 25  Simple water budget calculations.  Assignment #10 is due today.  FYE course evaluations. APR 27  Balancing Act group presentations. 
17 MAY 2  No class today. MAY 4  Field trip; Wendella Lake and River Tour.  Course evaluations.  Dress for outdoor work today!
(Grades are due at midnight, May 8.) 
REQUIRED TEXT AND MATERIALS:  Bring these to every class session.
w CSS:  "College Success Strategies", by Sherrie L. Nist-Olejnik and Jodi Patrick Holschuh, custom edition for NEIU, Pearson Custom Publishing, 2010.

w Additional readings:  Some readings will be provided in class or via Blackboard; you must check this online syllabus to stay updated. 

w Your notebook, field notebook, pen/pencil text, and any handouts or homework papers you might need.

Appropriate attire for the day's activities. 
COURSE REQUIREMENTS:  Grading and Evaluation
w Attendance at all class sessions is required.  Attendance is part of the course grade.  The NEIU policy on class attendance (see the NEIU Catalog) applies to this course.  In accordance with university policy, less than 75% attendance will automatically result in a failure for the semester, regardless of your grade for assignments.
w If you absolutely must miss a class, please notify the instructors in advance, if possible, or as soon thereafter as you can.  To learn what you missed, first check the web page, and then get notes from at least two classmates.
All course requirements must be completed to pass the course. 
w The final date to drop any Spring 2012 course, per University policy, is March 30.

w Students are expected to check e-mail and the course website at least every other day to watch for course announcements and updates.
Academic integrity:  The NEIU policy on academic misconduct will be strictly enforced.  A site from Indiana University  explains and gives examples of plagiarism and provides helpful tips on how to avoid it.  Cheating on homework, exams, quizzes, or other course components will result in a score of zero for that assignment or more severe penalties, as described in the NEIU policy.
w A large part of this course involves working in small groups.  A positive group dynamic depends on your positive attitude and acceptance of diversity: other group members will have diverse opinions, individual backgrounds, and work styles.  The ability to work well with others is an important skill necessary in virtually all careers and in daily life.  Whether or not you have previously been exposed to group work, in this class you will have the chance to build and enhance these skills--and have some fun along the way! 
w Team citizenship may be a part of your grade on the semester project or other group projects.  The team score will be weighted by individual scores assigned by team members to themselves and their teammates.  A copy of the Team Citizenship Evaluation appears here.
w Students are expected to participate in all course assessments.  On some days, you will be asked to complete anonymous "minute papers", ungraded quiz-type questions, concept maps, or survey questions.  This information will help the instructors determine the extent to which the course is meeting its goals.  To help make the course better, please give your most thoughtful, honest feedback--the more, the better.
Evaluation and Grading Policies
  10%      Attendance and participation  
  65%      Projects:   
   Project 1:  H2O: Where Does it Go?  
   Project 2:  Thirsty City  
   Project 3:  The Great Debate  
   Project 4:  Do We Need an Ark  
in Albany Park?  
   Project 5:  Balancing Act  

25%      Other Assignments  

* The grading scale is as follows:  A 100-90%; B 89-80%; C 79-70%; D 69-60%; F <59%. 
* Late homework assignments will not be accepted
unless you communicate with the instructors about the issue and they approve the request.  Even with instructor approval, late assignments may be docked points.
* Make-up exams will be permitted only in a case where there is an approved reason for missing the exam.  Missed exams that are not made up will result in a score of zero for that exam.
* Please note the schedule for the final exam and university policies governing final exams (inside the back cover of the Schedule of Classes.)  No exceptions will be made other than those allowed by this policy.

Flexibility: The schedule of activities will change several times per week as the semester evolves.  Check this page frequently for updates!

Dr. Kenneth M. Voglesonger E-mail:  K-Voglesonger [at]
Office hours:  Monday - 3:00 - 4:30 pm
                        Tuesday - 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon
                        Wednesday - 12:00 - 2:00 pm
                        or by appointment.
Web page:
Dr. Laura L. Sanders E-mail:  L-Sanders [at]
Phone: 773.442.6051 
available in S-130/132. 
Office hours:  Tuesday 4-5 pm, 7:20 - 8:20 pm
                        Wednesday 11:50 a.m. - 12:50 pm
                        Thursday 4:30 - 5 pm; 8:10 - 8:40 pm
                        or by appointment.

Web page:
Tif Probst, Peer Mentor E-mail:  T-Probst [at]
Office hours:  Monday/Wednesday 10:00 - 10:50 a.m.
                        Monday/Wednesday 5:30 - 7:00 pm
                        Friday 2:00- 4:00 pm.
                        or by appointment.
Location:  Ronald Williams Library, 4th floor (look to the left as you get off the elevator).
LEARNING OUTCOMES:  Course Objectives
Upon successful completion of this course, you will have demonstrated the ability to do the following:

work effectively as a team member to research environmental geology issues of a specific area, in particular with respect to the scientific investigation of soil and water, interpreted in the context of Chicago regional geology.
apply a scientific method for geologic field and data interpretation, utilizing time management strategies, critical reading and analysis, and written/oral presentation skills in the synthesis and interpretation of the data.

Toward this final goal, successful completion of course elements will enable you to:

4 Compile an organized record of data and supporting information from various sources (field and laboratory experiences, class presentations, readings, and research), optimized for your individual learning style.

4 Distinguish changes to the landscape effected by stream, lake, and coastal processes; critically analyze patterns of change in soil and bodies of water to predict continuing/ future changes from these forces.

Evaluate the impact of geologic factors on human activities (including water and waste management, storm water and sewage treatment/control, construction, etc.) in Chicago, and the effect of human activities on analyzed parameters of water quality and soil characteristics.

4 Apply strategies to maximize achievement of your short-term and long-term academic goals through self-knowledge, successful navigation of the university environment, and effective planning.
Chicago's vital bodies of water--Lake Michigan, Chicago River, and others--interact with the urban landscape and the soils and rocks of the ground beneath us. These interactions influence environmental issues in our everyday lives, including "What happens when water goes down the drain?" and "Why do certain areas flood after it rains?"  Explore these questions in the context of Chicago's geology, to evaluate the critical interactions affecting soil and water contamination, flooding, and our drinking water. Laboratory analysis of water and soil, collected on local field trips, will clear the "muddy water" about how environmental geology impacts your neighborhood.  ESCI 109W meets the NEIU General Education requirement of a laboratory Natural Science course.
General Education Program:  Muddy Waters counts as a Natural Science Laboratory course.  See this document for more information.

First-Year Experience Program: Muddy Waters counts as your First-Year Experience course.  See the First-Year Experience Course Matrix here.
Web address (URL) for this page:

Muddy Waters is supported by the National Science Foundation program
Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences
(Award 0914497).

Department of Earth Science | Northeastern Illinois University

Copyright 2012 Laura L. Sanders.  Last updated April 27, 2012.

Your Instructors:
Dr. Ken Voglesonger

Dr. Laura Sanders

Your Peer Mentor:
Tif Probst