Wednesday, October 28, 2009

sharing earth science with the next generation

Thanks TC for the extension. Jess at Magma Cum Laude is hosting this month's Accretionary Wedge and has given us an extra week. Thanks!

This month is all about sharing our
love of geology with budding geologists. I get to work with K12 teachers every summer. We do a quick day on campus
(Colorado School of Mines) and then we take off for the canyons of the Colorado Plateau. Depending on the class we spend either 3 or 5 days on the river while studying geology. The teachers as students try their hand at calculating river discharge, suspended solids and total dissolved solids. We use inclinometers/Brunton compasses/ rulers-taped-to-protractors to determine the height of canyon walls. Once the height was calculated we determined the rate of incision using some local lava flows that have been dated. And sometimes we visit old Uranium mines. It is so cool to do such simple calculations that have real results. Oh-ya we also have a lot of fun doing geology outside!

I also spend some time with the kids themselves. Locally, Colorado History is taught in the 4th grade. We spend time wandering around old mining districts and trying to see what the old prospectors were looking for before they dug their hole. The kids love wandering around outside and looking at rocks!

Just last week I spent a day with some local 8th graders. We looked at geology with 2 views: identification and interpretation. We first identified the rock and then we interpreted what the rock could tell us about ancient times. We discussed rock units and mappable units. We examined sedimentary rock from an ancient ocean, igneous rocks that indicated a massive volcanic explosion and a metamorphic rock that showed us some impressive forces from Pre-Cambrian times. Again, you can't beat walking the mountains with a bunch of kids and just let the rocks tell their story.