Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Children Are Here!

Edgar goes over the rock cycle

-By Edgar Bernal Sevilla, Curation/Education Staff

This week’s hiking blog post is going to be about one of my least physically demanding but favorite hikes: elementary school field trips! Field trip season has begun here at the museum and we just had our first week of school visits. As usual, I led the hiking/field education part of the field trip. We tailor our field trip program according to the grades of our visitors, and since we’ve had mostly 4th graders, I introduced the children to the rock cycle and centered the hike on rock types and geological processes. And, also as usual, I had a blast while doing it.

Albert helps a student with her pot
In case you are not familiar with our incredibly successful field trip program, here’s an overview. The field trips are usually split into three different sections: history, coiled clay art, and hiking. These different sections allow for a holistic and multifaceted learning experience concerning the desert in which we live.

While each of our staff members can lead any given section on demand, we tend to have our favorites. The history section deals with two main subjects: the history of water in the Imperial Valley and the Kumeyaay, the indigenous people of our part of the valley. Students get an informative tour of the museum, usually by Angelina, one of our staff members. The coiled clay section of the field trip is usually given by Albert, one of our two education coordinators. Students learn to create clay pots made in the same style as those of the Kumeyaay that are on display. Students then get to go on a hike out into the desert led by yours truly. Different grade levels get different hikes, depending on what they are going to cover in school. We can give hikes with many different focuses, including but not limited to: geology, botany, ethnobotany, zoology, and human culture.

Students explore olla uses with Angelina
Our field trip program, organized by our other education coordinator Marcie Rodriguez, is growing exponentially. Two years ago, we had 423 children come through the field trip program. In the first 6 weeks of 2017 we have already had 465. It's gonna be a big year!

As for the actual hikes themselves, they’ve been a lot of fun. After giving a geology lesson from our "GEOLOGY IS THE SCIENCE OF GETTING YOUR HANDS DIRTY" toolbox, I took these fourth graders down to the wash behind the museum all the way to our mini 1.5 foot sandstone canyon, making several stops along the way. I love leading these hikes because children are so incredibly inquisitive and eager to learn.

“What’s this type of rock teacher?”
“And this one?”
“And what about this one Edgar!”
“Also quartz.”

Whether it’s rocks, cactus, or coyote prints, that level of interest keeps me energized, even on days towards the end of the field trip season when it starts to get hot and I’m the only person that has to go outside three times. This energy allows me to do my job well, and have a blast doing it.

My coworkers all feel the same way, we talk about it all the time!

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