Sixth Grade Geology Trip
For their annual geology field trip, Mountain Discovery 6th graders pile into cars and minivans (parents are invited to attend) and head up to Cumberland Gap National Park for two nights of camping and exploration. On the way to the KY, TN, VA border, students are shown some of the different rock formations that make up the Great Smoky Mountains, including giant Thunderhead Sandstone bounders and the famous rusty slates of the Annakeesta Formation, the presence of which stopped completion of the infamous "Road to Nowhere".
In KY, students visit some sites near Black Mountain where mountain top removal is in full swing. Down the other side of Black Mountain, students visit the Kentucky Coal Museum in Lynch, KY, and are treated to a tour of a once active coal mine at Portal 31, also in Lynch. In the mine, realistic robotic figures tell tales of what it was like to work in these mines, from the days when mules hauled out the coal to the more modern "continuous miners", giant machines with rotating cylinders which knocked out the coal much more quickly than before.
Students finish up the trip on the last morning with a trip to Gap Cave in Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. Students are led into the cave with only flashlights, seeing several species of bats and salamanders as well as many amazing clear pools and large calcite formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns and flowstones.