Exploring the Geology of Northern New Mexico

The switch to Daylight Savings Time can be pretty difficult when you’re stuck in a classroom. Fortunately, last Monday we got to spend the day outside with our 7th graders from McCurdy Charter School!

We headed north to hike in the Abiquiu area. This region is a really nice spot to discuss geology because we were hiking right in between the Colorado Plateau and the Rio Grande Rift. What better place to learn about and explore the geology of northern New Mexico?

IMG_4277
Headed up the trail
IMG_4238
Checking out the Entrada Sandstone
IMG_4155
Observing the Ritito Conglomerate

IMG_4160

IMG_4193
Entire class with Entrada Sandstone

We climbed a good deal on this hike, and the higher we went, the better the view seemed to be.

IMG_4438

IMG_4268

IMG_4336

IMG_4327
Admiring the view

We had a contest to see who could find (and explain) the coolest rock, and there were many contenders.

IMG_4307

IMG_4314

IMG_4442

We had a fabulous hike, and we found fantastic examples of metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous rocks. We learned about weathering and erosion. Most of all, we had a great time getting outside and exploring the world around us on foot!

The kayak building continues…

Last Monday our 7th-9th grade GATE students from EspaƱola returned to NMWC to work more on their kayaks. We worked really hard, and made lots of progress. I’ll let the photos tell the story!

IMG_3096
Sanding the frames
IMG_3099
For the bow and stern, we used more powerful sanding methods.

IMG_3102

FullSizeRender
We got to try them on for size for the first time!
IMG_3119
Painting the seats with exterior enamel
IMG_3150
Painting the frames with exterior enamel.

IMG_3135

IMG_3121

IMG_3149
It turns out that painting is pretty fun!

IMG_3143

After a lunch break, the frames were dry, and we began cutting the canvas that will cover the kayaks.

IMG_3160
Unrolling the canvas
IMG_3166
Carefully measuring the canvas
IMG_3180
Measure twice, cut once

IMG_3184

IMG_3188

Then we carefully fit the canvas to the kayak frame and began stapling it down.

IMG_3193
Covering the kayak with canvas

IMG_3196

IMG_3199
Stapling the canvas to the frame

IMG_3198

IMG_3213
Doing some detailed fitting at the bow and stern
IMG_3225
It takes a team!

We made great progress this week, and I think everybody was especially excited because they really are starting to look like kayaks!

IMG_3229
Smiles all around!

We’ll be exploring the lakes of northern New Mexico in just a few short months!

Wildlife of New Mexico

One very important, and sometimes overlooked, aspect of place-based environmental education is learning what kinds of animals belong in the ecosystems in your area. Last week we addressed this with the 7th graders at McCurdy Charter School by bringing them to NMWC.

We discussed why these animals are here and on exhibit (either because they have an injury that prevents their release or because they are imprinted). We took an up-close look at a few birds and discussed what adaptations make them able to live here and why.

IMG_2747
Testing our hand strength to see if our hands are as strong as eagle talons.

The students also got to meet our bull snake, Basil, and see how he compares to a rattlesnake.

IMG_2750
Checking out the flammulated owl.

IMG_2759

IMG_2762
This particular student has been begging to see our grey fox all year.
IMG_2763
Taking photos of our bald eagle, Maxwell.

This group of students has been begging to come and tour NMWC all year, and we were excited to give them the chance. We’ve spent the year teaching them about the ecosystems around them, and after getting to meet some of New Mexico’s wildlife, we think that these students are more committed than ever to protecting these species.

Building Kayaks: Finishing the Frames

Our goal for our January kayak-building class was to finish putting the strakes on the boats. We began where we left off in December.

IMG_1785
Keels and ribs
IMG_1788
Measure twice, cut once

We even learned how to use a new tool- a router!

IMG_1791
Demonstrating use of a router
IMG_1799
Students using the router

IMG_1804

We got quite a bit of work done!

IMG_1811

IMG_1823

IMG_1795

IMG_1819

 

IMG_2030
It’s starting to look like a kayak!

The next time we meet, we’ll begin the process of covering the boats. We can’t wait to get out on the water!

Exploring a Snowy Forest

It’s been a bitterly cold weekend/week in New Mexico, but we didn’t let this put a damper on last Monday’s science exploration. We donned snowshoes and explored the Santa Fe National Forest around Truchas with half of the 7th graders from McCurdy Charter School.

For most of these kids it was the first time they’ve worn (or ever seen) snowshoes!

IMG_1630
Man, these things make my feet look big!
IMG_1632
Wait… how do I put these on my feet?
IMG_1656
With a little help from their friends, our students got the hang of it.

A big part of the trip was simply learning how to move around in snowshoes. It’s a very different form of winter transportation.

IMG_1638
Getting a little advice on staying warm from the expert.
IMG_1709
Grouping up to get going

Once everybody got the hang of walking in snowshoes (or at least after everybody had their fill of falling down in the cold snow), we moved on to the science topics of the day.

We talked about trees.

IMG_1642
Smelling a Ponderosa pine
IMG_1701
A very different type of tree
IMG_1668
Examining a pine cone

We talked about tracks.

IMG_1664
Looking for tracks on a south-facing slope
IMG_1696
Mouse tracks disappearing into a hole
IMG_1698
Mouse tracks running from hiding spot to hiding spot.

We talked about snow.

IMG_1673
A cohesive layer of snow, thanks to the sun.
IMG_1683
Looking at snow crystals with a crystal card and a loupe

Of course, we also spent quite a bit of time simply enjoying the peace and solitude of the forest in winter.

IMG_1679

IMG_1705

IMG_1650

IMG_1711

Despite temperatures in the teens, our students had a great time exploring the forest. After all of this hiking around, we enjoyed hot chocolate and apple cider before boarding the bus to return to school.

We’re very grateful to our partners at PEEC for loaning us the snowshoes and making this trip possible!

More Kayak Building

Last Friday our 7th-9th grade River Classroom met at NMWC to continue our year long endeavor to build kayaks. This time we got all of the ribs attached.

IMG_0598

IMG_0600
Refining a few edges
IMG_0601
Sanding
IMG_0606
Sanding
IMG_0605
More sanding
IMG_0618
Attaching the bow to the keel
IMG_0612
Gluing the stern
IMG_0611
Attaching the stern to the keel
IMG_0594
Marking where the ribs will go
IMG_0635
Marking where the ribs will go
IMG_0631
Using teamwork to attach a rib
IMG_0637
A kayak skeleton

Now that we have the ribs attached, we’re ready to add strakes. These boats are really coming together, and we can’t wait to get out exploring local riparian ecosystems on our own boats!

Christy

 

 

Tracking Across Campus

Yesterday was a prep day for a really cool field trip we have in the works for McCurdy Charter School’s 7th grade. The students practiced their tracking skills on campus!

First, we held a short discussion about tracking. What kind of questions are we wanting to answer? Well, we would like to know what kind of animal made the tracks. It might be nice to determine how many of the animal were there, and ideally we can determine a direction of travel, if not a purpose. It’s very similar to solving a crime- what happened here and why?

Since tracks aren’t very easy to come by on pavement, our students created their own. We secretly placed these across campus, and students had to explore to discover the track. As we found tracks, students were responsible for recording the type of animal, the latitude and longitude of the track, and notes about the tracks (such as direction traveled, number of animals, and the animal’s purpose).

IMG_0499
Which way did it go!?
IMG_0472
Turkey tracks
IMG_0481
“A bigger turkey?”
IMG_0491
Examining the tracks
IMG_0498
Recording latitude, longitude, and other characteristics
IMG_0502
Grouping up to review photos and create conclusions

We’re really looking forward to applying our tracking skills to tracks in the snow after the Christmas break!

Christy