The magazine Budget Travel had an interesting story about 10 places every kid should visit. Since CSMS has such an active Pebble Pups and Juniors programs I took a great deal of interest in list. I wondered “how many” of these sites could a Pebble Pup visit and learn something about geology? So, here is their list with some personal comments.
THE GRAND CANYON-AZ.: a good choice (but how could anyone pass up this feature on a “list”). The kids would pick up “lots of” ideas about sedimentary rocks, geomorphology, geologic time, canyon cutting etc. Even a short hike down the trail would help the students better understand geology.
THE NATIONAL MALL-D.C.: well, not many outcrops but the kids could spend hours, or days, in the Smithsonian Museum of natural History. If they were traveling with an adult with some geological knowledge, a good project would be looking at all of the monuments. Remember the Lincoln memorial is carved from a single piece of Colorado Yule Marble.
REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK-CA.: the big trees are always impressive. The interesting part comes from being able to observe the ecology of marine tide pools. The geological part is where the budding paleontologists can examine ancient rocks that contain fossil endemic to tide pools.
ELLIS ISLAND-NY: Everyone needs to think about their ancestors. The kids need a dinosaur fix? For a great geological experience hit the American Museum of Natural History.
NIAGARA FALLS-NY: A great place for geology where one may examine stream action, downcutting, and waterfall formation all in one place. They also could learn the “Niagara Escarpment” is found all over the Midwest.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK-WY, ID, MT: Now, this has to be the geological hotspot of the nation. A Pebble Pub could spend days at Yellowstone studying the geology. The 3,472-square-mile park is home to more geothermal features (geysers, hot springs, mud spots) than any place on earth.
COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG-VA: OK, this one stumps me; the geology is a little short. Maybe could study the Appalachian Mountains. Been there, was not overly impressed (although I am a history buff).
CRATERS OF THE MOON NATIONAL MONUMENT AND PRESERVE-ID: Back to geology. What a wonderful place to observe fairly modern volcanism (in the few thousands of years old). I especially liked the lava tubes.
INDEPENDENCE HALL-PA: A really good geological project here is studying the weathering rates on old tombstones. You have the death dates, now identify the type of rock and all will agree that marble is pretty but does not last as long as granite.
ALCATRAZ ISLAND-CA: Interesting choice from the editors but I suppose kids would enjoy it. Place to study mountain building and plate tectonics but need to do homework before arrival. The ferry boat ride to the island is nice but...
So, I would leave out Alcatraz and substitute Yosemite National Park. Substitute Rocky Mountain Park for Independence Hall and Badlands National Park for Colonial Williamsburg. Ellis Island is OK if you make certain to visit the American Museum. Otherwise take a trip north to Acadia National Park.
In my opinion, the best place for a kid to see is the inside of a tent at any locality in the Colorado Mountains! Take them somewhere where they can pound on rocks and pick up some colorful chert—hook them while young. Just take them.
What are your choices? Leave a comment or drop me an email.