CREA Educators were thrilled to welcome Harriet Beecher Stowe fourth graders to the Preserve for our first in-person field trips since 2019! Students were equally excited about their first field trip in ages. It was wonderful to hear the joyful and enthusiastic feedback (“I wish this field trip could last all week!”) as they experienced hands-on learning and outdoor discovery.
Fourth graders become young geologists during their 3-hour educational journey with CREA. Students observe grains of sand under a microscope, are challenged to make their own sand from different types of rock, and discover firsthand that some rocks break down into sand much more easily than others! Then they hike to the river and waterfall to observe these geologic processes happening in nature. Students’ faces display an eyes-wide-open amazement as they emerge from the forest trail and see the river for the first time. It’s a special and reflective time – a favorite moment for students and educators alike.
The fourth graders also learn to identify common rocks and minerals found in Maine, and observe evidence of Topsham’s history of feldspar mining. They hike to an abandoned quarry just a short hike from CREA’s Ecology Center, where they can see steel cables left behind from historic mining operations.
In another highlight of the trip, students hunt through mine tailings looking for gemstones. They discovered quartz crystals, chunks of tourmaline and some lucky students found amethyst and beryl! Students learn that when they take the time to look closely, they are often rewarded with special discoveries. They are eager to compare their samples with friends and bring them home to share with family.
Needless to say, we are so excited to return to what we do best — getting students outdoors, and using hands-on, place-based activities to inspire learning.