Tuesday, September 8

Roadschool Trip to Colorado + Geology

Our week-long trip to Colorado was amazing!  We stopped at so many fantastic places, but not everything was a tourist site.  After hiking at the Garden of the Gods, we were inspired to study geology...
One of the coolest parts about our trip through the Rocky Mountains was all of the different geological structures we discovered!  Our son was working on his Geology Merit Badge during this trip, and so we went a little more in-depth than a typical unit study.  It was a lot of fun!  In the photos above, we are looking at a sedimentary structure and the tree line.
Having spent most of our lives at or near sea-level, the plant life zones of Colorado were fascinating to our entire family.  Seeing the timber line, seeing snow in the summer...these were new to us!  This visual helped us as we looked out to the mountains themselves.
Before the field trip, though, came the studying.  At a garage sale last year, I stumbled across a retired science teacher's collection, and picked up containers with igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary specimens.  These are great for hands-on learning, and similar to the ones found from American Educational Classroom

We pulled into a hiking area, and headed down the trail.  The youngest wasn't too sure about this thing, but the older boys were quick to tie the rope and rappel down the side of the cliff!  We left the other adult behind (actually, she volunteered) with a cell phone....in case of emergency.
Down in the canyon, we began exploring the different layers of rock (correctly identified as sedimentary) and hiking up and down the canyon bed.  Some parts were more fun than others.  I believe what I called out as I fell waist-high in water was something along the lines of "this is a terrible idea!!!"  It was cold.  And SO gross.
The older boys climbed up and down as many rock faces as they could find, while the youngest and I stuck to exploring the shallow waters and crevices. 
And if you thought getting down there was fun, you should've seen us trying to get back up!!!  With wet mud boots and no footholds in sight, the boys had to each grab a leg and hoist me up (after I got the youngest back up).  It's a good thing they practiced all that knot-tying at Cub Scouts!  And no, there are no pictures of me trying to climb back up... 
At one of the local rock shops, the boys spent well over an hour discussing various geological samples from the local terrain.  We learned about feldspar, quart, and selenite.  The selenite towers were their favorite - as there were some that looked like magic wands!  Another neat thing about this particular store was how they provided written materials to go along with each piece they sold, and the approximate date of the rock itself.  What a cool, hands-on lesson in geology!

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