Friday, June 18, 2010

Cub Scouts

So I spent today talking to Cub Scouts about Geology. It was a pretty simple presentation, we talked about what geology was, why we would study it and then I introduced the three types of rocks. It was obvious some had worked on their geology section before as they would know igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic, but most did not. So I took them through a basic rock cycle and how each type of rock is formed and then passed out hand samples and had them try and identify which rock type is was. It was a lot of fun for me.

It always amazes me how much kids like rocks, asking questions and just learning in general. The scoutswere very engaged with the activity and many of these 8-10 year olds were asking better questions than my college students. Its not that I think the college students can't ask good questions its just that so many just do not care. I understand that most of my college students aren't going to be geologists , but so many of them also have a level of detachment. It was so different to work with the scouts who were just excited to learn. It also makes me wonder where (and why) do kids loose that aptitude for learning, and what (if anything) can be done about it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Top 10 Parks

I'll Play Lockwoods game, where he posted the 10 most visited and 10 least visited National Parks, bolding the ones you've visited and italicizing the ones you've never heard of.  Sam's at morning swim practice (in the rain) so I'll add the ones that she's been to in parenthesis:

Most visited:

10: Glacier
9: Acadia
8: Grand Teton (Sam was here when she was <1 year)
7: Cuyahoga Valley
6: Rocky Mountain
5: Olympic
4: Yellowstone (Sam was here @ age 8)
3: Yosemite 
2: Grand Canyon (When I lived in SLC, I set out to go here at least 7 times, each time I got distracted by one  of the other parks/wilderness areas in southern Utah)
1: Great Smokey Mountains (I do not remember if I have been here or not, if it was it was when I little)

Least Visited:
10: City of Rocks NR, Idaho (I drive by this all the time on trips to SLC, keep meaning to stop and climb...)
9: Cumberland Island NS, Georgia
8: Florissant Fossil Beds NM, Colorado
7: Chiricahua NM, Arizona
6: Tonto NM, Arizona
5: Dry Tortugas NP, Florida
4: Katmai NP & Preserve, Alaska
3: Kalaupapa NHP, Hawaii
2: Hagerman Fossil Beds NM, Idaho
1: Russel Cave NM, Alabama

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Multnomah Falls

One of our other excursions over Memorial Day Weekend was to Multnomah Falls. This stop was largely  influenced by my talking about how basalt fractures when it cools. When basalt cools slowly it will create vertical fractures in hexagonal or pentagonal shapes, and usually when I talk about it I show this picture taken of Sam and Devils Tower National Monument a few years back

But thisi year I was looking for something more local and that showed the fracture pattern a little more clearly, so I showed this image that I took last year (on our way back from a camping trip at Magone Lake) of a road cut on the Middle Fork of the John Day River. Here is a view of the base of the pillars

And here is a view of the pillars themselves, with Sam for scale.

Because this location is off the beaten path, so I tried to think of another example in the myriad of Basalts around town when one of the student said, "You mean like at Multnomah Falls?" To which my only response was, "I don't know, I haven't been there yet."  This caused no end of chiding from my students, so when the opportunity came  up this weekend of course, I went. And sure enough up near the top are nicely fractured Basalts.

The exposure at Multnomah also has pillow basalts, and a big section missing from a mass wasting event that occured in 1996 when a block the size of a bus fell creating a wave that injured 12 people.

The areas of interest, especially the columnar basalts were still way up high and hard to see, even harder to get a decent photo especially with the spray from the falls. So in the end my students were right, and they got me to visit Multnomah falls, but I am still looking for a more accesible image to show my students.

One final thought about Multnomah, it is the quintessential American tourist stop. Breathtaking scenery right off the interstate (actually, you do not even need to get off). The only draw back is that from the interstate there is about a 200 yard walk (under the eastbound lane) to get to the viewing area. Maybe it was because it was Memorial Day Weekend, maybe it was because it was Saturday, maybe it is always that busy, but whatever the case I feel no need to go see it again.