Sunday, July 10, 2011

Home Schooling - California Caverns - A Lesson In Mineral Deposition.

Original Composer:  Erik Satie

Modern Rendition:  Unknown

Although we had originally planned 
to go to Moaning Caverns...

we had, instead, decided to go to California Cavern.

I had read the reviews on Moaning Caverns...
this seemed a tamer first cavern for Alex... was a tamer walk for me  :)

We had to wait almost an hour for the next tour.

We had waited inside the gift shop and outside in the waiting area.

They had some nice souvenirs.
We ended up getting Alex a book on Geology.

The cavern entrance was a short 5 minute walk.

This is the hard hat hut.
It is actually at the exit of the Cavern.

Alex at the exit.
We are waiting for the guide to take us to the entrance.

Alex felt a cool breeze emitting from the grate.
I would later ask him (at home) how it was possible that a breeze
could be coming from the ground (one way).

I explained that it told us that it was an open system...
there was another opening somewhere...allowing ventilation.

(Although, it is possible to have a closed system with reciprocating 
air due to an expansion and contraction of a medium...
as in a sea cave (waves or tide)).

However, when there is a steady outflow or inflow...
it means there is another opening somewhere in the system...
although, it doesn't necessarily mean it is fully navigable.

We are standing at the entrance with the guide while we wait
for the rest of the group.

The Cavern had some tight and convoluted spots...
but it was well worth the trip.

Alex enjoying the sights of the Caverns.

He was excited inside.
It was a whole different experience...
one that will be remembered well.

When all the senses are engaged to fully
flavor the becomes a lesson that 
is not easily forgotten.

This was a pool of ceiling water drip.

The guide said the depth was about 40 feet.
We could see straight to the bottom with ease.

Once we got home...
I had asked Alex why he thought the water was so clear.

This, of course, allowed me to discuss the need for
energy input into a cycle to allow life to exist.

This led into a discussion of the main progenitor of life on earth...
solar energy and the concept of a food chain.

We also talked about an exception to the solar
connection and life forms...
the Sea Vents and their food chain...
but I was careful to emphasize the need for 
energy input being met by the chemical and heat output
of the Sea Vents.

We also talked about mineral deposition...
how it resulted in the various forms of 
calcification we had seen.

Alex peering into an angled hole
which led into a small cavern.

On our way out of the cavern.

I really liked the cool and stable temperature inside (low 50s).

We, of course, later discussed about thermal mass.
I also tied this in to desert survival.

I had explained that to survive in extreme heat...
it is most efficient to stay out of it.

This means to dig in under the ground during the heat of the day...
and travel by night...just as many of the desert animals do.

You lose less water...
especially if you allow your small cave to build humidity.

The loss of moisture due to respiration
(huge amounts in arid regions)...
is greatly lessened when the humidity is high.

This, and with the temperature being far less underground...
leads to a greatly enhanced probability of survival.

It was off with the Hard Hats...
and a short hike back to the Gift Shop.

On the walk back...
Alex said that he wished good times didn't have to end.

I said that there were plenty more in store.
I told him how our next underground exploration will
be at a gold mine sometime soon.

I had gotten a lot of conceptual milage out of this field trip...
and Alex loved the trip.

Another good homeschool day.


  1. That is awesome that you introduced Alex to yet another new experience. You would do well at running a survival camp!

    We are going on vacation next month and one of our stops will be Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. We are looking forward to it.

  2. Thank you...although, I only know the bare basics of survival as learned from when I was in the Army.

    Your caverns will be far larger and the cave system much more extensive. I'll bet Kai is really looking forward to the trip. I am sure he will love being underground...Alex got such a thrill out of it.


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