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Field Trip to the
California Coast

Through our five workshops together, we have provided many classroom activities and earth science content in order to emphasize two main themes:

  1. Energy comes in many forms and the transfer of energy is responsible for many earth processes and for shaping our Earth.

  2. The Earth is one system that involves interactions between the different “spheres” of our Earth: biosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere.

At the last stop of this field trip, the teachers were asked to take a moment to enjoy one of the most beautiful places on Earth to contemplate these major themes. For a final activity, teachers were asked to find one scene that exemplified these concepts and themes and to make a sketch of it. They were reminded that just because the concepts are large, that doesn’t mean that the example has to be at a large scale. Even one grain of sand, as we have learned, can tell a complex geologic story related to wave energy, gravity, ocean currents, deposition, and rock formation.

Selected examples:

Waves crashing on coastline— erosive energy, transfer of energy from wind (atmosphere) to waves (hydrosphere) to rocks (lithosphere)
Plants on hillsides— biosphere/lithosphere interaction. Roots can help erode rocks, cracks in rocks can promote plant growth, plants can prevent erosion on hillsides.
Marine rocks now on hilltops— plate tectonics (heat energy in lithosphere) causing uplift of rocks.
Red cherts— biosphere/lithosphere interaction. Cherts are composed of radiolarian skeletons. Radiolarians dependent upon ocean nutrients (ocean currents, upwelling) and photosynthetic organisms (energy from sun).

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