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Help Us Make the Sierra Our School

A place to explore the natural setting (geology, flora & fauna), people, constructed infrastructure and historical events that play and have played a part in shaping the Sierra Nevada as we know it today.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierra Our School

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat May 28, 2016 6:04 pm

An important thing is to have the kids do a lot if not most of the decision making. This is real-life critical thinking. If things do not work out, then discuss why. Instead of lecturing to them, ask them a lot of questions. Tie this critical thinking to in the moment reality, not a bunch of theory. Most kids that age are a bit young for lengthy theorizing.

Probably, without saying, top priority is safety. Pick an area where mistakes can be made without serious consequences. And a time of year past mosquitoes (hard to concentrate on learning if being attacked by swarms of mosquitoes). Good weather helps too, at first. Later, with more experience you can deal with unsettled weather. That involves another whole realm of critical thinking and knowledge.

If you plan to go out repeatedly, you may want to write up a long term learning plan. It is best to use teaching moments as they crop up. For example, teach foot care when one gets a blister, rather than theoretically. Point out flora and fauna as you see them. After you are home you can then elaborate on what they saw. Definitely have them keep a journal with their observations.



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Re: Help Us Make the Sierra Our School

Postby zwoij » Sat May 28, 2016 7:39 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote: It is best to use teaching moments as they crop up.


That is mostly my plan. Some prep so we know what to look for, but mostly we'll focus on what interests them and follow up on it after. That way I know they are interested in a topic and we'll follow wherever it leads. That can often mean jumping between various disciplines, which I am a fan of.

This morning they looked at a map with me and told me which routes they would each take to get to the Tablelands, which is our planned destination. We talked about what the lines on the map represent, of course. A good beginning.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierra Our School

Postby zwoij » Sat May 28, 2016 7:48 pm

Tom_H wrote:-Geology: At Devil's Post Pile you can see how basalt forms from high density lava, cooling into vertical hexagonal columns. You can compare some basalt and granite which form from the same minerals; both are Igneous, but basalt is extrusive-cooling quickly with not enough time for minerals to crystalize, while granite is intrusive-cooling slowly with enough time for differing minerals to migrate to each other and form macroscopic crystals. You can examine granite plutons and learn about magma chambers. Examine the hard plutonic granite in comparison to the softer crumbly granite around it. Go to Nevada Point Trail and examine the radical diversity in geological strata from the top to the bottom where the Rubicon has cut into the deep granite. Examine the veins of quartz there that are several feet thick. Learn how the formation of the Sierra induced a quasi-metamorphosis in the granite, allowing these large veins of quarts to consolidate themselves as well as for gold to consolidate within the quartz veins. Go to Malakoff Diggins and learn how ancient stream beds left placer gold in ribbons along ridges after erosion cut rivers to new depths. Examine the damage done by hydraulic mining. Go to Summit Creek in Emigrant Wilderness and examine how the hard plutonic granite on the south side of the stream contrasts with volcanic pumice and ash on the north side of the stream. Examine the soil in flat meadows in Sierra valleys; these are actually ancient lakes which eutrophicated through sedimentation and became those flat meadows. Examine Shadow Lake on Meeks Creek in Desolation which is in the last stages of eutrophication, no longer a lake, but a small marsh, on its way to becoming a meadow. There are similar ponds that are almost meadows just below Susie Lake in Desolation. In Sierra riverbeds, compare stones that are pure basalt with metamorphic stones where liquid quartz forced its way up through re-submerged basalt, leaving perfectly planar fins in some rock and bizarrely twisted veins in others.


Astronomy-there is nothing like an open view of the sky with no light pollution while at 10-14k' MSL. Go during a meteor shower season; The Perseid Meteor Showers will be August 12 and 13. Also do a little physics-basic orbital mechanics in particular. Discuss how the satellites you see can stay in orbit. Notice that most satellites in LEO (low earth orbit) fly west to east to take advantage of the initial velocity of Earth's rotation. Contrast that with the fewer spy satellites you see (launched from Vanderberg AFB-if they are ours) which pass over every location on Earth every 12 hours due to their orbital direction combined with planetary rotation.


Thanks for all this Tom. I knew this community would be helpful.

If you are familiar with the Tablelands, do you have any thoughts on geology (or anything else) that we should be aware of in that area? That can include everything between the trailhead and what we can see from the divide.

Yes, I think we will be up there right at the peak of the Perseids. In the past I have tried to take them camping during the Perseids when possible. If we can cowboy camp in the Tablelands and watch the Perseids that will be amazing.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby Jimr » Tue May 31, 2016 11:23 am

zwoij wrote:... Do you have an example of the orthographic profile you mentioned in your other response?

...


Since they already have their ideas on how to enter the Table lands, have them each profile their route. A foot of thin string, graph paper, pencil is all they need. They will need to start learning the legend of a map and what the various information means. This is a good start because they will need to use the distance scale on the map. Have them mark off one mile in the center of their string. A tape tag or just a black marker will do. Create a chart to gather information. Rows will be numbered 0 - x to represent each mile of distance. The first column represents elevation, second column notes. Now start at the TH and note the elevation. Use the marked mile on your string to measure from TH to first mile of trail. Mark it with a pencil and record the elevation at that point. Continue that protocol until the desired end point. I would follow large switchbacks and treat numerous small switchbacks as a straight line. The notes section can be used to identify where certain features are located, ie. switchbacks that were treated as a straight line, lakes (although they will be obvious on the orthographic projection), any other noteworthy features. They use this info later to label them on the projection.

Have them size their graph, x axis = miles, y axis = elevation. Find the highest and lowest elevation to identify how much elevation needs to be represented, and the last mileage entry. This will give them an idea of what size graph will be generated. Now, start plotting points and connecting lines adding notes as desired. The point of notating switchbacks that were treated as straight path is to note it on the graph. If the line segment is very steep, the notation that switchbacks were ignored gives them information that they will be working switchbacks to gain that elevation and helps to explain some of the distance differences between trail references and their profile.
What?!
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierra Our School

Postby gdurkee » Fri Jun 03, 2016 2:53 pm

Hi: a few good reference books. I traveled for my first Sierra years with Sierra Nevada Natural History. An excellent general guide to birds, plants & geology. Another excellent book (for you, so you know more. Perhaps a bit much for the kids) is James Moore's Exploring the Highest Sierra. Excellent history and, especially, geology. He's got a guide to interesting geology of the highway as well as the Muir Trail (though I don't think the HST).

Hard to know what would be a cool project. But It's always interesting to look at species diversity in small areas. How many separate species can you find in 100 feet of meadow (not necessarily identify -- that's pretty hard -- but list as different); same with sitting at a forest/meadow edge for an hour in the morning, mid-day, and evening. How many species? Why would the forest edge have more species than, say, the forest itself?

Pay attention to the granite (maybe even some metamorphic in there -- I can't remember). What's different about the rocks -- crystal size; light rock vs. dark. Your superior knowledge from Moore will help you answer some of those questions.

Great idea. Have fun.

George

Oh, wait, more. How about them imagining how Native Americans lived there. Keep a sharp eye out for obsidian. You'll often find it at narrow gaps & passes (where they waited for wildlife) and at the same camps you might choose. Where'd the obsidian come from? How'd they get it? How'd they stay warm. How you the kids stay warm and fed if they didn't have 21st century stuff?
Note: Obsidian came from east side of Sierra. Several sites north of Lone Pine & Mammoth off Highway 395. Major trading routes across Taboose Pass & Kearsarge Pass. Some over Shepard. At the moment, can't think of good Native American reference.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierra Our School

Postby zwoij » Tue Nov 08, 2016 12:21 am

Report of the trip is now up. http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=15228&p=113915#p113915

Thanks everyone for your very helpful input!
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