Thursday, October 15, 2009

Teachable Moments

Dana Point, CA
October 14, 2009

“Teachable moments” is a phrase that is well-loved by preschool teachers. It simply means taking the opportunities provided by everyday life and most of the time just merely pointing out things to kids. They usually take it from there.
So far, this trip has bee full of teachable moments. Today, I got one that was in my favorite subject area: geology. The boys and I went to explore what was on the other side of the breakwater behind which we have been anchored. I have observed that the nice walking path went around the Ocean Teaching Center and toward where the breakwater meets the base of a bluff. I was hoping that there might be a beach just on the other side.
Not only was there a beach, but the sun beginning to break through today’s overcast (which had earlier been raining on us) coincided with our exploratory mission. Luckily, Brad had strongly suggested swimsuits for the boys. They played in the water building sand castles for the waves to take out for awhile and I read.
At some point I realized the bluff behind me had great sedimentary deposits clearly showing the sorting that goes on as the depositional environment changes. On closer look, farther up more toward the top of the bluff I saw a great example of an unconformity. I went in for a closer look and literally stumbled (or squished) into clay that had run down off the bluff and was deposited at the base from the last couple of nights’ rain storms. The clay got the kids’ attention – they found that there were two different types being washed out of two different deposits. They played with it for a few minutes and then I went through the observations that I had made earlier. Bryce took them a step further noting some “faults” in the bluff where the “stripes” didn’t match up anymore.
Next time, I will be prepared with my rock hammer and identification charts for classifying rocks that we find!!!

The osprey on our masthead did NOT
break our instrument array to Brad's relief!

Can you see the layers and the unconformity?

Geology lesson beach

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


This is a great blog. I'm enjoying following along vicariously.

Chris King