Geology Field Trip
Field Trip exercisesuggested grade levels: 4- 6

view Idaho achievement standards for this lesson

Although this lesson plan has been made for a trip to Rocky Canyon, it can be adapted for almost any type of field activity involving geology. Students with teacher and parental support will culminate science units on rock types and common plants on the Boise Front with a four-hour field trip to the confluence of Cottonwood and Picket Pen Creeks in Rocky Canyon. Rocky Canyon (Old Stagecoach Road from Boise to Idaho City) is less than a ten-minute drive from the State Capitol. Prior to the field trip, students will learn the three major rock types: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Classroom classification exercises will reinforce basic characteristics of rocks such as color, hardness, mineral content, etc. Digital Atlas, textbook, Internet, and video resources will be utilized to sequentially teach the unit. Prior to the field trip, a unit of study on basic plant parts and classification characteristics will be completed relative to common wildflowers and shrubs of the Boise Front.

1. Students will be able to identify at least three igneous rocks and describe and record basic geological characteristics of each of the igneous rocks.
2. Students will be able to identify common shrubs and describe what people who inhabited the area used them for.

a cardboard clipboard nail
pencils 5 copies of guidebooks for Idaho rocks and plants will be available for students to refer to while in the field to answer specific questions.
:magnifying glass laptop computer is available, the Digital Atlas would be an excellent resource for a trip such as this one.
streak plate  

Sites to use with this assignment on the Digital Atlas are:
Click on Idaho Overview, Rocks.
Click on Idaho Overview, Snake River Plain.
Click on Atlas Home, mouse-over Geography, then click on Native Americans.

Parents accompanying the field trip will meet with the classroom teacher before the field trip to become familiar with the objectives of the field trip and will be expected to encourage students to complete the field trip assignments. A set of questions will be developed that parents can use in the field to assist students to complete field trip assignments.

Sample Questions:
1. What types of rocks did you see during this trip? Are they sedimentary, igneous, or metamorphic rock?
2. What types of vegetation did you observe? What kinds of adaptations would you expect these types of vegetation to have to survive in this climate?
3. What tribes of Native Americans used to live in this area?
4. What do you know about the geographic and geologic history of this area?

For each rock found and identified in the field, students will observe the rock and perform a variety of tests in order to fill out a matrix that describes the rock (where found, color, minerals present, and if possible, hardness on scale determined beforehand). Each rock will be named using guidebooks available. For each woody shrub identified, students will fill out a matrix by describing the plant (height, where found, slope exposure, description of leaf including drawing of leaf shape, aromatic smell, and bark texture). Each shrub will be identified using plant guides. Follow up classroom work will include using the Digital Atlas to find additional information on rock types, plants, Native Americans of the area, history of Old Stage Road from Boise to Idaho City.

Handouts/activity links:
These are links to access the handouts and printable materials.
Rocks | Snake River Plain | Native Americans.

Related Lesson Topics:
Geology: Geology Topics

Lesson plan by Grant Simmons, 2001
Idaho Achievement Standards (as of 7/2001) met by completing this activity: