Musings of a roaming nature nerd

The Grand Canyon: Week Four (Tucson)

Day 23: Jason and I took a muddy, dripping walk just to get out of the house, as rain poured all day and night. I enjoyed the reminder of the great eastern downpours of spring, however rain here at this time of year is very unusual. Other than deep puddles there was not much to be seen on this gray day.


Day 24: An awesome breakfast at El Tovar while looking out at the cloud enshrouded canyon helped calm my nerves about the week ahead. Later in the day I hit the road for my Ranger-Visits-to-Classrooms all across Tucson.


Day 25: I visited 5 schools and taught 19 programs this week. The week began with 5 back-to-back Geology programs for third graders. Exhausting, but so rewarding to engage little kids in discovering the world around them.
Fun facts about geology:
The youngest rocks at the Grand Canyon are older than the dinosaurs!
Plate tectonics are fun to learn about by using Oreo cookies as the earth’s crust and mantle!
Fossils of Trilobites can be found in the Bright Angel Shale of the canyon. Trilobites were the first known animal on our planet to have eyes!
At the end of a busy day, I enjoyed a long walk just before sunset and shot this image from a wash in Oro Valley. A great way to decompress, reflect on the day, and mentally prepare for the next lessons.


Day 26: Six lessons, also adding Archaeology into the mix. Some of the kiddos had even gone on a dig with their teacher and were dirt lovers in the making! While examining prehistoric and historic artifacts, we fine-tuned our observation and inference skills to help understand the human stories at the Grand Canyon. The librarian snapped this picture during a geology dance I was teaching the kids about sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks. Who knew that dirt and rocks could be so fun?!


Day 27: An hour and forty-five minute commute took me to Sierra Vista for the days programs. My voice was beginning to get hoarse and I was grateful to only teach three classes. After a shorter day I took advantage of the amazing weather and went birding on the nearby San Pedro River and grasslands.


Day 28: I love teaching about ecology because it is a subject I actually know something about! The kids got to examine animal skulls like this coyote skull below, dress up like the endangered condors, and play a guessing game about the canyons rich variety of habitats and wildlife.
Fun facts about ecology:
It takes 9 fifth graders standing shoulder to shoulder to fit inside the 9 1/2ft wingspan of a condor!
When asked to name an omnivore, most Tucson students will name a javelina! That is awesome!
The Grand Canyon encompasses 5 ecosystems, from Boreal Forest down to Desert Scrub. Hiking from rim to river is like hiking from Canada to Mexico!


Day 29: A twelve hour day, including three classes and a six hour drive north. An incredible week away, but also such a relief to see those big volcanic San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, telling me I was almost home.


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