MFA Geologist Meaghan Pollock Volunteers at Outdoor School

Author: Meaghan Pollock, GIT Published: June 25, 2019

Each spring, the fifth graders at Kalama Elementary head to Cispus Learning Center in Randle, Washington, for a day of learning in the great outdoors. I spent a beautiful May day at the learning center with these students, teaching them about geology. The learning center is situated northeast of Mt. St. Helens, in the Cispus River Valley. The campus boasts a variety of educational resources highlighting the history and geology of Mt. St. Helens, including a pit showing the soil horizons resulting from past eruptions and an entire room dedicated to the 1980 eruption.

I focused my teachings on the study of river processes and the landscapes that form as a result of those processes. I took a group of students and parents down to the Cispus River and we identified evidence of erosion, rock types, and the origin of those rocks. As someone who rarely works with elementary-aged students, I was impressed by their ability to grasp basic geologic concepts and apply them to what they were observing.

Students of this age often have few opportunities to see science (and geology in particular) happening out in the real world. I’m grateful that MFA provided me with the opportunity to share this experience with students who are genuinely eager to learn about science. I’m looking forward to being involved again next year with a new group of fifth graders.