Great Hollow Wilderness School

New Instructor: Adrienne Long

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Hello everyone!  My name is Adrienne and I will be working for the Great Hollow Homeschool Program this spring and summer teaching the fascinating subject of Geology!  I am about to graduate from Cornell University with a Masters Degree in Geological Sciences.  I am just thrilled about spending the summer outside and imparting some of my knowledge about rocks and the workings of the earth to the students that I will have the privilege of working with.  I am very excited about the opportunity to both teach and learn in the wonderful environment of Great Hollow and look forward to meeting all of you sometime in the next few months.

Geology is a science that uses all of the five senses.  Looking at rocks provides us with colors and shapes by which to describe what we see.  Different rocks will sound differently when we scratch a nail against them or knock gently on their surfaces.  We touch rocks to describe how smooth they are and hence learn about their transport history (rocks that are rounded have traveled longer distances).  It is possible to distinguish fine-grained sandstone from lithified clay by putting a tiny bit of the rock dust in your mouth and feeling the texture (a grainy feel would mean sandstone while a smoother feeling would be clay).  And of course let’s not forget those particularly stinky rocks that have sulfur in them and are impossible for your nose to ignore!

The incorporation of physically observable ways to participate in Geology as a science makes the application of geologic principles intuitive and fun for children (and adults) of all ages.  The study of the rocks in our backyard is interesting in and of itself, but additionally, Geology also incorporates a larger understanding of the world around us when we ask challenging questions like, “Where did this rock come from and why is it different than the other ones in my backyard?” or “Why is this mineral so much bigger than those around it even though they are in the same rock?” 

These observations and questions combine into a fascinating science that encourages us to use our senses in conjunction with basic scientific methods to create a logical story and to express that story in basic terms that everyone can understand.  To describe rocks we use color, texture, size and percentages of different minerals in the sample.  In describing a large body of rock, we use the number of different rock types visible in the area in question, the angle those rock beds make to the horizon and the shape of the terrain, such as mountains vs. valleys.  All of these aspects of Geology combine to promote linear as well as creative thought processes and help young minds develop critical thinking skills. 

Looking forward to all of our adventures!

Sincerely,

Adrienne Long

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