The Grade 3/4 class at Prince Charles School (Belleville) will participate in a digital field trip today, travelling virtually to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology  in Drumheller, Alberta. The Royal Tyrrell has one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur fossils. Renowned geologists and paleontologists who study the igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks for fossils are also connected to the museum. The students will interact with the museum host to ask questions about their own projects about rocks, erosion, fossils and minerals.
"The students are looking forward to this event," said Tina Bergman, the teacher who has been doing this for a couple of years. "Video-conferencing makes it possible. The interaction between my class and the geologists is virtually seamless."
To solidify their learning, the students will create realistic fiction videos as a culminating activity for their projects. They have prepared the following questions for today’s digital learning experience.
- Logan: How did natural water from Drumheller transform into petroleum or fossil fuels? We know that there are certain animals that were needed to get crushed down, but how did these transform into the fuel? How was the fossil fuels created from heat and pressure? Logan’s thoughts: I know that when my uncle heated my hockey stick and it bent, I am wondering if it was something like that. I think that there is two ways: 1) that the heat from the bottom of the lake created pressure. 2) That the earth closed up over the water and pressed down to create fossil fuels. Answer from Joanna the Geologist at the Royal Tyrrell: Plant materials get buried in sediment, which over time, turns to rocks. These rocks bury the plant material and it gets deeper down in the earth. Being deep in the earth is where the heat comes from. The rocks over top provide the pressure which concentrates the carbon in the dead plants to form coal. Petroleum is the same process but happens to marine algae.
- Hailey: Were the Trillium flowers alive during the Mesozoic Era? Hailey’s thoughts: I’m still wondering . . . probably not. The first flowering plants arrived in the Cretaceous, so something like the Trillium would not have been seen yet.
- Vicky: At what point (during the time periods) did diamonds, rubies, topaz and other gems evolve? Vicky’s thoughts . . . I’m still wondering . . .Answer from Joanna the Geologist at the Royal Tyrrell: Most gemstones are minerals. A few, like pearls, come from animals. Minerals are parts of rocks and rocks have been around longer than animals and plants. Rocks began cooling and hardening about 4 billion years ago (that’s the oldest ones we have found on the earth). Gemstones may go through the rock cycle over and over, just like any other rock or mineral could. They are simply minerals that humans find pretty or special in some way.
- Curtis: What types of rock formations contain goal and diamonds? Curtis’s thoughts: I think sedimentary and igneous but I’m not too sure – I guess I’m still wondering . . . Answer from Joanna the Geologist at the Royal Tyrrell: Gold can be found in two types of deposits: in hard rocks (igneous and metamorphic) or rivers where the gold is concentrated. When gold is found in sedimentary rocks it’s because these river systems produced them. Diamonds are found in igneous rocks call Kimberlite. The kimberlite is pushed up quickly from deep down in the crust of the earth where there is extreme pressure. Diamonds are carbon that forms at high pressure underneath the continental crust.
- Samantha: How are gold and diamonds formed in the rock cycle? Samantha’s thoughts: I’m still wondering . . .Answer from Joanna the Geologist at the Royal Tyrrell: Diamonds are formed when carbon is buried below the continental crust and at high pressure carbon forms diamond low pressure carbon forms graphite (which is pencil lead). The carbon is brought to the surface by Kimberlite pipes which are igneous. Here’s a tidbit of extra information: the diamonds aren’t actually in the igneous rock itself, they are trapped in Xenolithes which are tiny bits of the mantle carried to the surface in the Kimerlite pipes. Share that with Curtis too!
Mrs. Bergman and Principal Mr. Smit would like to thank The Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation which made this digital field trip possible through a learning foundation grant to enhance the 21st Century learning at Prince Charles School.
For more information, please contact:
Kerry Donnell, Communications Officer, 613-966-1170 or 1 800 267-4350, extension 2354, [email protected]