Teaching in the Field: the Wrigley Field Program in Hawaii

Teaching in the Field: the Wrigley Field Program in Hawaii

The second day of the fall quarter, 19 undergraduates piled into two white vans at 6:30 a.m. and began driving up the side of the largest volcano in the world, Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii. The vans climbed several thousand feet in altitude, passing through tropical forests and rain clouds before reaching the day's classroom an hour later.

Decked in raingear and hiking packs, the students gathered around Peter Vitousek, a professor of biology and, by courtesy, of environmental Earth system science, as he gestured at the forest on the opposite side of a field of volcanic rock and laid out the day's activities: They would hike across miles of lava flows, each hundreds of years old, stopping along the way to sample the vegetation that grew up years after the lava had cooled.

He asked them to take a moment to form a hypothesis about what they would find, paused, and then set off down the rocky trail at a burning pace.

Read the whole story by Bjorn Carey in Stanford News Service.