NAGT > Teaching Resources > Teaching in the Field > Field Trip Examples > NAGT Southwest Section Field Trip 2005
Tunnel that visitors follow as they descend into Kartchner Caverns. Photo by Don Burt.

NAGT Southwest Section Meeting & Field Trip to SE Arizona, Fall 2005

Kaatje Kraft, Mesa Community College
Merry Wilson, Scottsdale Community College

Intended Audience: Faculty and Educators - Professional Development


Southeast Arizona; Bisbee, AZ; Kartchner Caverns

Daily Itinerary: See Materials Section below

All of these could be done as individual events, rather than a full weekend. Each of these activities could be geared for many different audiences. The Kartchner Caverns tour is limited in what can be done on the actual tour, but there are great resources available for those that would like to better understand the geology.


This was a yearly field trip for the SW Section to have an opportunity to convene, enjoy one another's company and see some of the spectacular geology of the SE portion of Arizona. The weekend included a rare opportunity to see and photograph the inside of Kartchner Caverns (an AZ state park, well preserved living cave system), a stimulating workshop hosted by Dave McConnell & Dave Steer from the University of Akron, as well as a field excursion to see a Lower Cretaceous coral-algal-rudist reef offered by participant and member Don Burt (from Arizona State University).


This field trip included participants of all ages from 5-60 with many different physical abilities and knowledge backgrounds. Kartchner Caverns is accessible to all, but typically does not allow photographs. By a stroke of pure luck, we were invited to join a larger crowd that paid a much higher price to be able to take photographs, unfortunately, those images can not be shared with the general public as a result. But the group price is quite reasonable at $20/person (no waivers for school groups, but they do offer reduced prices for schools) for a group of 16. Reservations must be made far in advance. To fill out our crew, we invited some interested folks from California (Far West section), so the trip was a success from many far reaching regions.

Photo during the talk presented by Dave McConnell and Dave Steer.

The workshop was held at the very friendly and accommodating Double Adobe Campground & Recreational Ranch. We used their Arizona Room for a casual workshop and talk hosted by Dave McConnell and Dave Steer from the University of Akron (funding provided by the NAGT Distinguished Speakers Series). Their interactive talk was titled, "The Tourist, the Gunslinger, and the Gardener: Rethinking Metaphors of Teaching & learning to Enhance Student Reasoning." They then worked with this small crowd of college and high school faculty in developing good ConcepTest questions for a larger lecture setting. The feedback was positive, and participants were impressed that they "practiced what they preach," it made it more believable for the participants that it could be used successfully in their own classrooms. After the workshop was over, we moved out to the BBQ pit to enjoy burgers and beer. Other family members joined us for the after-workshop conversation and we enjoyed the serenading from Gary Calderone (Glendale Community College) and Guy Ivester (spouse to member, Betsy Ivester from Scottsdale Community College). The next morning, those of us that camped on premises enjoyed a hearty breakfast provided in the dining room (which included their homemade chorizo sausage from their own cattle!).

After breakfast, a few of us continued on to investigate Lower Cretaceous coral-algal-rudist reefs as led by Don Burt from Arizona State University. We managed to find excellent samples of coral and some other associated species. A place some of us hope to return to with our students in the future.

All in all, we had a very successful trip with great memories and new ideas to take back to our respective classrooms.


The most important goal for this weekend was to have a positive experience associated with our SW Section members. Based on feedback from participants, it was a positive experience for all involved.

Another goal was to expose interested members to some new teaching strategies to use in the classroom (especially the large lecture classroom).

Don Burt, Merry Wilson, and Debbi Petri enjoying the fire from the barbecue pit while being serenaded by Gary Calderone and Guy Ivester in the background.


We tried to have a casual atmosphere for all of our different activities. All family members were welcome to participate in all activities. Having "the Davids" added a more convincing and formal tone to the teaching component which made it more respected, but by keeping it casual kept the conversation open and flowing.

Notes and Tips:

  • For a casual field trip with NAGT members & family, be more relaxed than you would about a more formal trip with your students.
  • A good variety of food always helps add to the overall atmosphere.
  • Try to split up the activities in a logical way to provide opportunities for people to choose from and provide alternate activities for spouses/children as well as if people want to spend more time exploring the region (for example, some participants chose to sign up for a tour of the old Bisbee Mine).
  • Be sure to get the word out early and often.

Assessment and Evaluation:

Based on feedback from participants the trip was enjoyable which was the most important goal. Assessment of the implementation of new practices into the classroom is in progress.

Materials and Handouts:

Trip Itinerary (Acrobat (PDF) 152kB Jul21 06)

Close up of one of the rudist bivalves from the coral-rudist-reef system outcrop.


Kartchner & Whetstone Mountains:


  • Bryant, D.G., 1987, Supergene enriched fluidized breccia ore, Lavender open pit copper mine, Warren (Bisbee) Mining District, Cochise County, Arizona, in Hill, M.L., ed., Centennial Field Guide Vol. 1, Cordilleran Section, Geol. Soc. Am., p. 21-22.

Paul Spur:

  • Schreiber, J.F, Jr., 1987, Lower Cretaceous coral-algal-rudist patch reefs in Southeastern Arizona: Ariz. Bur. Geol. Mineral Technol, Spec. Pap. 5, p. 280-292.