The 9th grade Summer Academy is where students are first introduced to geology as part of their GeoFORCE Texas adventure. The trip focuses on coastal processes and sedimentary environments. We begin at the University of Texas at Austin, where students stay in university dorms to experience a taste of college life. Students visit McKinney Falls State Park and other geologic sites around Austin.
After taking a bus to the Texas Coast, students begin their study of the geology of the Texas Gulf Coast. The trip includes time at Texas beaches measuring the beach profile, trenching to investigate different layers of sediment and studying longshore drift. Students also visit the Texas State Aquarium and may take a trip on a scientific research vessel. Returning home, students will be able to use their geologic knowledge and the confidence they have gained on this field trip as incoming high school freshman.
10th Grade Summer Academy
The group will fly into Las Vegas, Nevada and head to Utah, crossing into Arizona briefly on the way, meaning that students will travel to four states in a few hours. On the trip, students encounter some of the most spectacular scenery of the United States and learn about the rocks and the processes that created them over millions of years. The group visit Zion National Historic Park, Glen Canyon Dam, and the Grand Canyon. There is also a stop at Meteor Crater, Wupatki Ruins, and Sunset Crater. The students get the opportunity to take a gentle raft ride down the Colorado River and an awesome hike in the Grand Canyon on the South Kaibab Trail. The trip builds on the Coastal Texas experience by introducing a wider variety of sedimentary rocks, older rocks, and discussions of deep geologic time.
11th Grade Summer Academy
In the previous two academies, students studied carbonate rocks and coastal processes in Texas (year 1) and ancient sedimentary rocks in Arizona (year 2). In year 3, they travel to an active plate boundary to see how volcanoes and mountain ranges are formed and to compare higher-energy coastal processes with those seen in previous trips. Students will learn what causes earthquakes and will visit several active volcanoes, walk across recent lava flows, and traverse the heart of the Cascades along Lewis and Clark’s historic route to the Pacific Ocean.
Field stops include such geologically renowned places as Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, Crater Lake and its world-class clear blue water, and the sandy, gravelly, and rocky shores of the Pacific coast. A popular dose of marine biology is added through visits to tide pools on coastal stops and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. This trip adds igneous rocks, geologic hazards, and active tectonic processes to the students’ growing geologic knowledge and prepares them for the final Academy trip to experience the complex geology of ancient rocks within the Texas Hill Country.
12th Grade Summer Academy
The final trip brings the students back to Texas, where they study the rocks of the Texas Hill Country and experience what research scientists do in the lab. The Texas Hill Country bears witness to the story of a dynamic and constantly changing Earth and reveals the existence of ancient mountains, inland seas, earthquakes, uplift, and the power of water to dissolve rocks. All of the geologic concepts studied over their previous three summers culminate with the 12th grade Summer Academy, completing a geologic education that has taken the students across the country to spectacular sites, through increasingly more complex geology.
The students will visit several points of geologic interest such as Longhorn Caverns, Pedernales Falls State Park, Enchanted Rock, and Inks Lake State Park. Additionally the students will visit with faculty and research scientists at the Jackson School of Geosciences and learn about the cutting-edge research currently being done.