DANCING BOULDERS UNDER A JOSHUA TREE: AN OUTDOOR CLASSROOM ACTIVITY
This activity is envisioned to be a series of rock gardens within a school ground, campuses of a school district or even public parks. The locations can be an existing flagpole, outdoor cafeteria, school atrium/lobby or any conspicuous public place. In each location, an ORIENTED boulder is emplaced where a student/teacher is challenged to identify the rock type and measure existing structures (e.g. bedding planes, cleavages, flow structures). They will then plot these data on a map perhaps even using a GPS equipment. Once all the boulders are plotted, the students/teachers are now challenged to interpret their data and look at the overall picture. As an example, if the oriented boulders are sedimentary or metamorphic rocks, they can then predict the direction of the higher order fold axis/plunge and responsible compressional forces. This outdoor activity is considered safe (within school grounds) and in accordance with Bloom's Taxonomy of training the students in higher critical thinking skills. Each rock garden can even be expanded to include several species of plants where a biology class can also have a guided lesson tour. If the rock garden is artistically designed in small waterfall setting or on a sand setting (Zen Buddhism) with several seating areas, then it can also serve as a meditation or cooling-off area.
One critical aspect though is the mentoring of the school teachers on the proper layout of the boulders in order to produce a meaningful interpretation. Teachers will be trained to identify common rock types, use of compass, GPS equipment, map reading and plotting and basic geological interpretation. A handscale model of this activity using a griddded cardboard, clay and small pebbles will be demonstrated during the convention.