Learning about Caves: Another Friday Field Trip

I told you we started our school year with a bunch of field trips.  This week, I took the kids to visit Timpanogos Cave as part of the little ones’ science curriculum on caves.  During the past two weeks, we have watched the Planet Earth episode on caves, watched Nova’s Mysterious Caves movie, and read One Small Square: Caves.  The kids have made lists for extra research in their science notebooks, and done a couple of experiments.  They watched their pupils change from large to small to let in or shut out light.  They dissolved salt in water and watched the water evaporate leaving the salt.  And they made bat ears!

Not as a culmination to this unit, but before they start make a cave diorama or continue their studies, I wanted them to see a real cave system.  We have been in many very small caves on our hikes, but none deep enough to have any kind of formations.  I don’t think I would be brave enough to explore any real cave system on my own.

Timpanogos Cave is a National Park, and after the short (1 1/2 mile) hike straight up the side of the mountain, for a small fee you are offered a 40 minute tour of this small but beautiful cave system.  I had not been there since I was a child, remembering very steep drop-offs that I didn’t want to take small children on.  Now, however, we are more experienced hikers and this was a wide paved trail (with very steep drop-offs.)  So we gathered our courage, and climbed.  It was definitely a worthwhile experience.

One of the first things being inside a cave taught us is that caves really are made by water:  a lot of water.  Everything was dripping wet.  The hand rails and floor were slippery with water, and the stalactites were dripping more or less constantly.

We saw the “Heart of Timpanogos,” an estimated two ton stalactites, huge walls of flow stone, a little “cave bacon” and a few draperies.  One of the formations Timpanogos is known for are these tiny helactites growing like crazy little fingers from the walls and even on top of other formations.

We were also able to see that without the paved pathways and electric lights, there were still plenty of places to meander, explore and get lost in even this small cave system.

Round trip, our visit to Timanogos Cave took us about 3 hours.  Plan for longer if you have smaller kids with you.  It was a great field trip to help us understand more and encourage more studies of caves.

Do you like to plan field trips to work with something you are currently studying?  Do you have a great idea for places to visit?  Please leave a comment below.

 

 

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