Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall SKIP Week 4 - Geology!

It was a cold and rainy day, but things were "rockin'" at Murphys Point on Sunday as the SKIP gang gathered for a hike to the Silver Queen Mine.

The program was led by the park's Natural Heritage Education Leader Tobi Kiesewalter, who gave us some great tricks for remembering important geology facts. For example, having trouble remembering rock terminology such as igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic? Well, Tobi remembers them as a rock band made up by members Iggy, Cedric and Morpheus, of course.

We started off in the drive shed at the Lally Homestead where a warm fire burned in the woodstove and Tobi showed us not only some nice crystal specimens, but also explained how we can make our own using regular table salt. He also demonstrated the result of a crystal-making kit. It's not as difficult as you might think!

Then we started off on our hike, stopping first at the barn foundation where Tobi explained the effect of erosion on rock. What water would take millions of years to do, our SKIP kids accomplished in a couple of minutes with a hammer - to make sand! We also learned about the types of rocks typically found in this area and how they were frequently used in building foundations.

Our next stop was devoted to learning about metamorphic rock - rock that changes through the effects of heat and pressure. What better way to demonstrate this than by stacking Starburst candies together and watching how they change after applying heat and pressure from our hands. It was a yummy demonstration.

Next, by looking at the landscape, we learned how different rocks have different levels of hardness. This was further demonstrated by attempting to scratch different specimens with various objects.
And look! We saw fungus, too!

We headed to the bunkhouse where we learned just how difficult it is to make money by mining. Tobi had us mine for chocolate chips in a cookie using toothpicks as drill bits. A cleanly recovered chocolate chip (mineral) could net $500, but if there was a lot of dough (waste rock) clinging to it, you would lose $100. Tobi assessed the results and tallied the earnings. It was yet another delicious activity!

And then it was time to go down into the Silver Queen, where we saw the real-life results of mining and caught a glimpse of the mica, feldspar and apatite that was mined here. A big thank you to Tobi for his excellent geology program, as well as to our intrepid volunteers for the day: Linda, Pat, Jane, Nancy, Steph and Maria.

Next week we're heading off in voyageur canoes to explore Hogg Bay!

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