Science on a sphere and hoodoos

We had a co-op today in the Springs at the Space foundation. We got to see science on a sphere as we learned about plate tectonics, satellites, weather patterns and more.

We watched the current weather roll in from satellites parked around the globe.

We talked about the earth’s crust, here’s what the earth looks like stripped of the oceans.

We talked about convergent, divergent and transformational boundaries.

We watched the Japanese earthquake hit and watched the tsunami roll across the ocean to South America. The DMNS has a sphere too, but what is on it is limited and there isn’t always someone there to explain it. After the sphere show we went into the classroom to do some hands-on activities. First, we talked about the three types of rocks, where you find them, how they form and what they are made of. Our guide was using the torch to heat some sediment (sugar), showing us what would happen to the rocks that end up in magma.

We saw sedimentary rock layers (we could look out the window to see an example of that, Garden of the gods was across the way.) Then our guide mixed some rocks, sediment and water and poured it into a waffle iron to transform with heat and pressure (don’t worry, it was just flour, sugar and water.) We got some clay and started working on pressing plates together, thin and thin plates smash to make mountains.

Thin and thick plates smash and the thin plates go under the thick one; thick and thick plates move kind of side to side like a transform boundary. After this lesson we went into the visitor center to do a scavenger hunt.

We found out that Alan Shepherd was the first American in space in 1961 (at first the kids thought the question was who was the first man to walk on the moon, but it was who was the first American in space.)

We searched through information about rockets, space suits, rovers, landing units and more.

We found out that Russian astronauts ate their food from cans instead of pouches and that they like to eat fish products for breakfast (yum?)

The geology lesson was just what my girls needed (just started earth science) and we are going to be doing hiking and rock-hounding this summer, so rocks and minerals and formations will be on our list of things to learn about, this was a good introduction.

I had been waiting for a nice day and a trip to the Springs so we could hike at the Paint mines. Well, today was the day and the girls were excited to try out some of their new knowledge about rocks.

We arrived at the park, it looks like a pretty normal plains hiking area.

You start on the path (any trail will take you to the same place) and it isn’t long before you start to see hoodoos, spires and a canyon beneath you.

Sometimes the rocks (sandstone, shale, rhyolite, Castle Rock conglomerate, and selenite clay ) look like science fiction movie sets.

The Native Americans in the area used the clay for paints and for pottery, miners later used it for making bricks.

Erosion from wind and weather has made the spires and hoodoos, the valleys and blueberries (something we just learned, blueberries are small round rocks made by water erosion.) We walked up a dry stream bed and took the trail around some of the formations.

There were a few flowers blooming here and there.

We found a ground wasp busily cleaning out his hole.

The girls got lost in a maze of spires while I watched from the top.

We read about the geology of the area and marveled at the fact that we were thousands of years down in a canyon and wondered what it would look like in a few thousand more years.

After the hike we stopped in at Focus on the Family for some ice cream and play time. We made it home by 5:30 and I put spaghetti and meatballs on for dinner. I’m glad we made it to that hike, it’s not a good summer hike (no trees) and we’ve been wanting to go there. We’ll have to go back though, we missed out on the toy museum and huge antique store in town (closed on Mondays, sigh.)

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