First Day Activity

First Day Activity

Learning Objective: 

This ungraded, informal assignment is designed for use on first day of class. By listing geologic and hydrologic factors relevant to construction projects, students will demonstrate the level of knowledge that students already or intuitively have about the subject matter for the course.


This is an un-graded assignment; student's will demonstrate their existing knowledge about subject matter through group presentations.



This is a first-day activity. No preparation is required prior to implementation in class.

  • Lecture Introduction (2 minutes). What is Engineering Geology? Basic intro material presented. Divide into teams, assign roles based on place of birth (Eastern-most = manager; Western-most = skeptic).
  • Assignment (1 minute).  Spend 4 minutes learning about a famous engineering tragedy with your team.  Brainstorm ways that geology or natural systems may play a role in the design or construction of the project, and in its failure.
  • Project work (4 minutes). Instructor circulates between groups to ensure brainstorming is occurring.
  • Students integrate their team ideas and agree on a photo / video that illustrates the failed design.  The three teams at each table integrate all their ideas on the whiteboards (2 minutes).
  • Group presentations—a summary of the example and their brainstorming process (1 minute for each table, 1 minute for whole-class response).  The image is projected to all LCD and projector screens.
  • Summary / synthesis by instructor. (1 minute). Key points:

o   Everyone already knows what engineering geology is. We’ll use the semester to formalize this knowledge, learn terminology and industry norms, and learn investigation tools.

o   Review syllabus content and compare to the lists on boards