Contamination in Orangetown: A mock trial and site investigation exercise

Donald I. Siegel, Jeffrey M. McKenzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This report discusses how we developed and implemented an interactive upper division/graduate level class project based on a fictional trichloroethylene contamination incident as part of our spring-2003 semester hydrogeology curriculum at Syracuse University. The "truth" of the contamination was based on a hypothetical Visual MODFLOW and MT3D computer simulation of groundwater flow and contaminant transport. The class was divided into three consulting groups. One provided expert services to people living in a town ("Orangetown") whose drinking water had been contaminated. The other two groups provided expert services to two fictitious manufacturing companies accused of responsibility for the contamination. The consulting groups prepared environmental assessment and contaminant characterization reports on different, fixed mock budgets. The culmination of the project was a daylong mock trial. Lawyers represented the three consulting groups (one real lawyer and two senior consulting hydrogeologists with extensive trial experience) and a jury of lay people decided the outcome. The overall exercise substantially increased the students' attention and interest in the material, as well as their examination performance in the course. Future iterations of the Orangetown Project may be integrated with courses in Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and the Syacuse University College of Law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-273
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Contamination in Orangetown: A mock trial and site investigation exercise'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this