Senior Tyler Stiles rocks


Tyler Stiles

Senior Tyler Stiles showing off some of his favorite rocks

Senior Tyler Stiles, while still living in Kansas, had a room decorated like a miniature planetarium. 

The walls of his childhood bedroom were complete with small planets and other space-themed decor that propelled his love of science—specifically his current favorite areas of focus: geology and mineralogy. While he was young, his area of expertise was astrology—thanks to the planets that adorned his walls—but it has switched to geology and the rocks that make up this Earth as he’s grown up.

“I have always been interested in geology,” Tyler said. “It is my favorite part of science. I have always been into science; it is the one topic that spoke to me.”

Ever since middle school, when Tyler first heard about the geology course offered at the high school, he has known it’s a class he has to figure out a way to fit into his schedule.

Last year, Tyler took science teacher Joey Spadafore’s Geology course in order to feed his love of science. This year, in an effort to expand on his geology knowledge, Tyler is taking an independent study with Spadafore to get a deeper understanding of hydrology.

“I like to think of it as Geology 2,” Tyler said. “I had been talking with [Spadafore], and he [was] like, ‘Yeah, we can expand on hydrology and cover the things that were skipped last year because of COVID-19.’ He’s naturally good at teaching. I really enjoyed his class and felt like if I was going to go back into another class with [a] teacher, it would have been him.”

I want to live in Grand Haven [and] work on digging wells because Grand Haven is really nice. I like to know how [rocks] form. If I am walking down the road, I will be like, ‘That is a sick rock.’

— Tyler Stiles

Hydrology is the branch of geology that is concerned with water moving underground or on the surface of the Earth. Hydrology, also, is the study of the water cycle and environmental watershed sustainability. Currently, in his independent study, Tyler is following along with the unit on rivers and shorelines with the rest of Spadafore’s geology students before diverting and following a more tailored path. 

Tyler, in an effort to combine both his passion for band and hydrology, is planning on attending Western Michigan to get the best of both worlds. Not only do they have an incredible program for hydrology, but they also have summer camps where you can go and survey water around Grand Rapids. 

“When I get older,” Tyler said, “I want to live in Grand Haven [and] work on digging wells because Grand Haven is really nice. I like to know how [rocks] form. If I am walking down the road, I will be like, ‘That is a sick rock.’”

While Tyler thinks he wants to do something revolving around digging wells, he’s looking forward to exploring all the different components of hydrology both during his independent study with Spadafore and while away at college. He’s hoping to transform his passion into a career.

“I have not personally dug into—pun intended—the nitty-gritty of what a job would look like or what I have to do,” Tyler said. “I just started [the independent study] this semester, so I do not have a lot of knowledge on what it is going to be like. I looked online for jobs that you could get with [this] degree and some of them were working for companies that build houses or supply water to houses.”