Monday, April 25, 2011

Whether You've Had Too Much Sun or Lost Your Marble,Geology Rocks!

Oregon Ridge Park
Quick Quiz: What do the tan line around the Washington Monument and a 5th Grade Me willingly sticking my finger in my eye and swirling it around from a spectacular brand of boredom have in common? Answer: Geology!

Well, turns out there's always hope, at least for me- The Monument is on its own, but more on that later. We  took a free Geology class at Oregon Ridge Nature Center with our homeschool group and the tour guides there taught me everything "Geography" I should have retained the first time around in about 5min flat and it was actually (gasp!) interesting. I guess breaking it down for the kiddles had a lot to do with me finally getting it- they must have appealed to my not-so-inner child. Where was homeschooling and extra-cool field trips when I was coming up???  

As our luck would have it, the rain held the entire time we were inside and then decide to show itself in full force the minute we stepped out the doors for the 'Nature Walk' portion of our class. We got to look for,collect and study some of the rocks we learned about in the first "presentation" part of the class, but our walk was cut short when we were all nearly soaked to the skin by the lovely rain and we just couldn't take it any more. Instead of calling us out and telling us to toughen up, our tour guides were true gentlemen and kindly invited us back for a Part 2 on a clearer, drier day.

So now back to this two-tone Monument...turns out construction, marble exterior included, was well under way until the War of 1812 stopped all that for a bit. When construction resumed, builders had to use a different type of marble (Cockeysville Marble) from the quarries at the very same site that Oregon Ridge Park sits on today. The existing Park site used to be a marble and iron mining site in the 19th Century.
The Washington Monument: A closer look
*Whispers* Can you see her tan line? Look but don't stare! If you can't quite make it out on this pic, click here.

Tidbit: For a fun twist, I had my girls follow up the tour with some interactive learning at the Science Kids: Rock, Minerals, Soils page. Also, check out the Cochise College web page for more great info.


  1. I heard about this outing from one of the other home-school moms. I love Oregon Ridge. We did the Wooly Bear Preschool and I really enjoyed it but the kids were more interested in finishing up so we could head to the playground. I look forward to going back when they're a little older isA.
    I did know the story of the Washington Monument, but not that the second-phase marble came from Oregon Ridge. Do you know if the marble mining site is the location of the 'beach' now? I know it is a rock quarry turned reservoir but not sure what kind of rock.

  2. I'm not sure where the marble mining site is. We might have found out had our walk been a little drier:^) The main types of rock they have up there are marble (their marble is greyish-light brown), quartz and iron (rusty & sparkly!) fyi, so if you remember what the rock looked like at the beach, that info might help you narrow it down.


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