Exploring Geology with the Acorn Class

By Brigid Fox | Brevard, NC

Studying science is so much fun with this age group.  The Acorns are, developmentally speaking, curious, eager, creative, and less encumbered by assumed expectations of results.  These children practically write my lesson plans for me as I see them oozing with excitement at the mention of “rocks” or “land forms” or even the word “geology.”  

While my goals are simple, their learning is complex and fascinating.  For example, a lesson identifying the layers of the earth not only gives them the knowledge that we live on the crust and have 3 other layers beneath our feet, it also opens their thoughts to how to care for our little piece of crust, what happens over millions of years, and what about the make-up of other planets.  It helps them make a connection so that they can be the one to love and protect the very complex system of Earth.  They become aware of the natural work that goes into the creation of ecosystems upon the land, then looking around at the environment, experiencing the awe of all the work that has gone into the Earth thus far.  They understand steps and the gradual-ness of nature.  They learn patience.

Who knew Geology could be so rich?  I guess the Acorns ; )

Several days ago, we went to the Brevard College Geology Lab.  This was a wonderful experience, opening the door to our geology unit.  The professor and his student aides were as enthusiastic as the Acorns.  We learned about rocks, fossils, and minerals.  Of course with all of the ooos and aahs, the children were learning more and more, such as there are 3 factors to making a rock – pressure, heat, and time.  It is amazing that the earth has delivered to us diamonds from within the mantle up to the crust considering the delicate balance it takes to turn carbon into the shining stone rather than graphite.  Or that beryl exists as an oddly shaped (hexagonal) stone in the ground that only over many years can it turn into an emerald.  Of course the wonders of these crystal structures lead us to being dazzled by the beauty and the complexity of Earth’s make up.

 

Upon our return from the field trip, the children were outside near the lake for recess.  We had been there many times before, mostly concentrated in the forest.  On this day, there was a new discovery.  It was as if they had turned their heads for the first time to notice the creek bed and its very precious possessions, ROCKS!  While there were no crystals as fancy as diamonds or emeralds, there was quartz, and other rocks such as granite, gneiss, mica, and feldspar, all glorious discoveries.  The children became geologists, looking tenderly at each rock and seeing within it a value beyond its weight or make up.  I like to think they are learning the stories of the earth that only rocks can tell.

 

We will continue our studies, but even after we finish the last research paper presentation, I know these children will continue to pursue geology.  Their curiosity will drive them deeper into the soil and creek beds as they create their own understandings and bridges to new topics.

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