Digging deep underground is helping some SUNY Oswego students see soil in a new light. SUNY Oswego News student reporter Krystal Cole has the dirt on this hands-on effort.

"There's your piece for grain size," Justin Stroup, a geology faculty member told his students. "You're gonna roll it in a ball.

The project, which included bringing in a massive drill, provides a priceless opportunity for students in Stroup's hydrogeology class.

"What we're really interested in is understanding the relationship between precipitation and ground water and rivers, like right over here," Stroup explained.

The drilling and sampling on this chilly day at Rice Creek Field Station will allow students to study how water flows through soil.

"The water flows faster through bigger particles like sand and gravel, versus clay and silt," said senior geology major Jessica Bullock.

The hydrogeology project involves students from start to finish.

"Well, it's really exciting, it's really rewarding, too," said Aubrey Balzani, a senior double major in geology and adolescence eduacation. "Especially to do all the hard work, the surveying work, before. And, it's just really cool to see your project go to full fruition."

"Each one of these lines, each one of these different sets of data, takes about an hour and a half to conduct," Stroup said, while holding up a tablet with an image of the underground structure of the area where they worked.

Getting their hands dirty brings the classroom to the real world.

The faculty here is really great in the geology department," Balzani said. "They really advocate a lot for hands-on experience. And, that makes all the difference in the world."

Especially for seniors this will help them make that transition from the classroom, Stroup noted.

"Being able to sample everything and get that hands on experience is very helpful," Bullock said. "And reassures me that this is actually what I wanna do."

The hydrogeology class will continue analyzing sediment cores in their quest to learn more about composition and ground water flow. This work will complement the college's Grand Challenges Project, when the campus community comes together in search of solutions to the far reaching challenge of fresh water for all.