8th Grade Field Investigations in Southwestern Minnesota, Badlands
National Park, & the Southern Black Hills of South Dakota - May 2004
Dedicated to Dr. Peter Whelan


View photos from the field and read the daily journal submissions!

May 17 - 21, 2004

Share in the Adventure!

  • To see and feel real earth science processes beyond the classroom walls.
  • To experience how geology has affected our human history and culture.
  • To interact with friends and new people from new places and cultures.
  • To develop an appreciation and better understanding of others.

Trip Overview

The schedule and itinerary sets out the various activities in which we are proposing to engage Parkers Prairie 8th grade students during their five days of field investigations in southwestern Minnesota, Badlands National Park, and the southern Black Hills of South Dakota. Our stops are intended to not only give the students an opportunity to gain first-hand familiarity with a wide range of topics (ranging from the Sioux Quartzite [Blue Mounds State Park] to garnets [southern Black Hills]; from sinkholes [the Mammoth Site, Hot Springs SD], to slumps [Missouri River]; from carving traditions of Native Americans [Pipestone National Park] to Jesse James epic flight by horseback through Minnesota and South Dakota [Devils Gulch, Garretson SD]; from ecology [a Nature Conservancy site in the southern Black Hills] to wind-generated electric power [Lake Benton MN]), but, more broadly, to further their sense of curiosity about and inquiry into the world in which we all live.


In the summer of 2001, science teacher, Marlene Schoeneck participated in the TIMES (Teaching Inquiry-based Minnesota Earth Science) Project, a venture of the Science Museum of Minnesota, and hosted at the University of Minnesota, Morris. The purpose of the course was to infuse more inquiry-based field investigations into earth science. Instructors for this class were Lee Schmitt, director of teacher programs at the Science Museum, and Dr. Peter Whelan, geology professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Peter went on to join Marlene on several day-long field experiences with her 8th grade students. In Fall 2002, Peter proposed a week-long series of investigations through the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota, and a partnership in adventure was born.

After lots of planning and support from UMM and the Parkers Prairie community, the first journey took place May 12 through 16, 2003. "It is hard to put into words what we feel has happened over the course of these five days. Words are by far inadequate, but many times we have summed it up as simply (or unsimply) "magic." We have watched kids grow. They have learned cooperation, new friendships, responsibility, and that they can do far more than they ever felt possible." (Marlene Schoeneck, May 2003).

Feedback on the Web Site and the Experience

"This is a great idea!! I've enjoyed being able to track the activities of the group and see what they are doing and learning about on their trip. What an outstanding way to keep parents, family and schools informed about the trip! The trip, in itself, is a great opportunity for students to see and experience various geological sites. In addition, it's important that the "general public" can see what our schools are doing and the value of activities such as this to the students. Thanks."

"Marlene and Peter, Thank you! The boys have had nothing but good things to say about the trip. They had a great time and would love to go back. I find it interesting that the time they spent was doing the kinds of things we took for granted when we were young. Sleeping in tents, open fires, swimming (not in a pool), and just playing outside. We do live in a different world and am so thankful to you for giving them this experience." (Parent)

Page Author: Pam Gades
University of Minnesota, Morris
Last Updated: February 13, 2012