Homeschoolers rock  on with Geoheritage Park loan collections 

by Erica McKay

“If something is gneiss, don’t take it for granite.”

“Don’t expect perfection from geologists; they all have their faults.”

“Plateaus are the highest form of flattery.”

My son and I have become obsessed lately with all things geological, in many ways thanks to Neil Carleton and his passion for sharing, and his excitement about our local geological history.  I never knew how much fun it could be learning about geology, and now I’ll never stop.

Geological details of the Wolf Grove area from Geological Survey of Canada map 1362A, Geology, Carleton Place, Ontario.  Image courtesy of Metcalfe Geoheritage Park.
Metcalfe Geoheritage Park in Almonte below the lower falls.  Photo courtesy of Metcalfe Geoheritage Park.

Our family is part of the Almonte Homeschool group, which gathers often to create courses, prepare lesson plans, and share resources.  Many of us were lucky enough to participate in a guided walk at Metcalfe Geoheritage Park that Neil led for the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists.  Here’s the link to Gretta Bradley’s 2017 Millstone article https://millstonenews.com/2017/10/mississippi-valley-field-naturalists-get-a-reading-lesson.html.  If you haven’t yet explored Canada’s first municipal geoheritage park http://metcalfegeoheritagepark.com/, I HIGHLY recommend it.

The package of prepared samples that everyone took home from our Reading The Rocks session at the Park was great for home instruction too.

As a result of our geoheritage adventure, one of our homeschool moms approached Neil about coming to a co-op gathering to teach us more – and boy did we learn!    He inspired us first with time travel stories about our area’s billion year old geological history.  During the Ordovician Period, for example, about 450 million years ago, our part of the world was near the equator and covered by tropical seas rich in marine life.  Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Our hands-on project was a rock portrait.   Each of us picked one of the sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous samples that had been collected locally.  It was a fun and creative way to learn about the different shapes, sizes, and colours of minerals that a rock is made of.  Everyone signed Neil’s nature journal on the page where he created a schist portrait by gluing together thin mica flakes.

The November presentation with follow-up activity was a great introduction to the Rocks Box loan collections that our homeschool group borrowed until mid-January.   It was a wonderful opportunity for real hands-on learning at our own pace.   We were able to touch and hold  different types of rocks  and minerals, study  various fossils, and use the enclosed resources to broaden our learning.  So much work has gone into preparing  these loan collections for the grade 4 study of rocks and minerals – Earth and Space Systems strand, Ontario Science & Technology curriculum http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/scientec18currb.pdf p 93-95.      They’re available free for classroom and homeschool use.  What a fabulous resource for our community.    Photo courtesy of Metcalfe Geoheritage Park.

If you’d like to learn more about the Rocks Box loan program of Metcalfe Geoheritage Park, check out this article in the Millstone News https://millstonenews.com/2018/03/reading-the-rocks-at-huntley-centennial-public-school.html.  It describes in detail what the kits contain, and includes links to fabulous resources.

If you are another great resource within our community who has an interest in sharing skills and knowledge with passionate learners, please feel free to reach out to the local homeschooling group. You can find many of us on Facebook, on the Almonte Homeschool Group page.