Advanced Geology: What is it?


Ava Stathakis , Public Relations/Marketing Manager

Along with the many classes offered at FHC, there has been a new one thrown into the mix. It’s a new science elective called Advanced Geology, commonly referred to by students as AP Rocks, which is taught by science teacher Joseph Spadafore. Many don’t know what the class has to offer.

“The study of the Earth and all the processes that form and shape the land and our environment around us. It’s about learning the history of the earth and the processes that have changed it overtime and what keeps on changing it,” Spadafore said.

Advanced Geology is very different from most science classes; it involves identifying things and where it is that they come from rather than the math that is done in both Chemistry and Physics. Instead of memorizing formulas and what number to plug in where, students memorize rocks and minerals and how to identify them.

“It’s different. It is not as math based as some of the other sciences, so it takes that aspect out of it. There’s still a higher level of expectation and I think most students are just starting to figure that out,” Spadafore commented.

Students who are actually interested in going into geology as their career were asked why they signed up for the class.

“Honestly, I’m really interested in getting into a career related to Geology, maybe like a park ranger or something like that. I want to do something in the field and it just seems really interesting,” junior Frances Grishina-Santangelo said.

Students, both the ones who thought it was just an “Easy A” class and the ones actually interested in this field of study, agree that the main reason as to why they took this class was because of the many field trips promised. Along with that, they were also intrigued with the outdoor labs that the class offered. 

When I enrolled in the class, I was most excited about was that they offered a ton of field trips and outdoor work.”

— Tommy Barfuss

“When I enrolled in the class, I was most excited about was that they offered a ton of field trips and outdoor work,” senior Tommy Barfuss said.  “So that really excited me at first, but I think when the class got so big, a lot of that chance kind of went away. It’s unfortunate, but I looking forward to the class being taught in a more serious way.”.  

In upcoming years, Spadafore plans on teaching everything a little bit differently. As with every class that is running for the first time, the only way to know which lessons to teach is when they are by trial and error.

“Next year, I think I will be rearranging the order that we learn things in,” Spadafore said.  “There’s always going to be growing pains the first time around and things that in hindsight that if some things had been taught first it would have been easier to learn other things. We’re working through it.”

Spadafore would like to take the students on more field trips, as well. Recently, the class went to Grand Ledge to observe different formations of sedimentary rock. Through looking at samples and the environment around them, students were able to assume how the rock formations got there. Grand Ledge will hopefully be one of many field trips that Spadafore has in mind.

“I would like to do some work in the Grand River,” Spadafore said.  “I’d like to get into some kind of quarry where they mine certain rocks. I’d also like to go to Grand Haven or somewhere on the lakeshore, and if we’re really shooting for the moon, I’d really like to take students to the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) someday.”

If one was interested in geology as a field of study, taking Advanced Geology would be highly recommended. However, this class is at a rigorous level. 

“I’d definitely recommend it, and I think it would help students who are going into who want to take AP Chemistry or AP Environmental Science their senior year because this is really important stuff to know for Environmental Science,” Barfuss said. “Not so much Chemistry, but I think it could be used as a bridge between Chemistry 215 and AP Chemistry.”

In all, Advanced Geology is highly recommended for those who enjoy Environmental Science, plan on taking it, or want to do something in that general field. Not only is it be a prep class for AP classes, but it’s an all-around interesting subject offered.

“The real world application of it is definitely interesting, and I’d argue more so than other science classes,” Barfuss said. “Even though it’s chemistry, you can see chemical changes happening. I could see a rock on the ground and can know how it was formed and why it’s the way it is.”