On Monday, 150 students from Faircrest Memorial Middle School in Canton visited Cuyahoga Valley National Park to learn about the geology of the area through photography. The photos they took of the park’s geologic formations will be on display at an art studio in downtown Canton this spring. They’ll also be printed and used for future science classes at Faircrest Memorial.
Hiking to discover unique geology of the Cuyahoga Valley
Jen Kruger is the students’ eighth-grade science teacher. Last fall, she and art teacher Amy Eibel approached the Environmental Education Center about bringing their students to the park. They wanted a program that would reinforce what students were learning in class, as well as incorporate art to engage student creativity.
“We were looking for a way to review all the Earth Science concepts for the American Institutes for Research assessment without giving kids more paper/pencil work,” said Ms. Kruger. “We thought a hands-on approach would be much more beneficial to get these concepts to ‘stick.’”
The students spent half their time in the park hiking the Ledges Trail to see its towering rock ledge formations. Environmental Education Center instructors led students among the 300-million-year old rocks and taught them how the Ritchie Ledges were formed by ancient seas, glaciers, and erosion.
“This program touched on everything we needed to review and gave students ‘real-life’ experiences,” said Ms. Kruger. “Students saw erosion, deposition, glacial till, and creep, as well as rock formations, superposition, and intrusions. We can show them what they look like in our book, but now we can show them what it looks like in nature.”
The other half of their day was spent taking photos. Two professional photographers guided the children as they explored the Ledges, looking for unique rock layers, areas of erosion and deposition, and other scenic features. When the students return to school, they’ll spend time editing the photos with the help of professional photographers to get them ready for display.
Learning to photograph unique geological features at the Ledges Overlook
Art teacher Ms. Eibel was thrilled to combine hands-on art activities with the students’ schoolwork. “A lot of these students don’t usually get outside to any parks, much less a national park,” she said. The chance to get outside and take photos in Ohio’s national park was a first-time opportunity for many in the group.
The students’ trip to the Cuyahoga Valley tied together a popular creative pastime with concepts of earth science. The children had chance to connect their studies with the real world—and had fun doing it.
The program was led by the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center, which offers year-round day and overnight programming for Ohio youth.