“Where have we been?”

There are no quizzes or tests for Classroom Earth. But there is one final exercise as we sit down for our final dinner. We handed the boys the atlas we’ve been using all this time. Their job during dinner is to trace our route, including important stops. Swim time at the pool may hang in the balance.

We look forward to getting home to our families tomorrow. Thanks for following along.

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Student Post: The Controversial Dam

This post was submitted by Will B.

During the 2017 Classroom Earth’s quest for knowledge about water issues in the West, the boys visited one of the largest and most controversial dams in the entire United States, Glen Canyon Dam. The Glen Canyon Dam, being 710 feet tall, has generated about $3 billion dollars of electricity, but this positive effect comes with many unfavorable consequences. The museum at the top of the dam revealed all of the endangered species in the river but neglected to mention how the dam affected these poor defenseless animals’ habitats. The dam lets cold water flow through to the rest of the river which hurts the fish who are adapted to the warm waters of the Colorado River. The dam also prevents sediment from traveling downstream which damages the habitats of the creatures who call the Colorado River their home.  The dam also slows the flow of the water a considerable amount which causes the sediments the river had been carrying to fall to the bottom of Lake Powell. This sediment build up increases unrelentingly and will cause the dam to be rendered completely useless. The sluggish pace of the river before the dam also allows the sun to evaporate the stagnant water. When you compound this devastating evaporation with the seepage of water into the surrounding rock walls, you create a deadly concoction which kills 6% of the water flow and damages the Colorado River’s slim chances of reaching its delta in Mexico. During my inspection of the museum, I found the dam could not sustain the overwhelming demands that come with increasing populations, and that our water consumption rates assist with this unsustainability.On top of the dam

Although many negative attributes of the Glen Canyon Dam exist, the dam also comes with many positive aspects. The reservoir created by the dam, Lake Powell, racks up huge amounts of money from tourists and water recreation for the city. The dam supplies many places with electricity as water flows through. Inside the dam, there lies a hole that slants downwards towards turbines. The immense weight of the water behind the dam pushes the water with great pressure into this hole, and as the hole slants downwards, the water gains even greater velocity, turning the turbines at a mind-blowing rate. These spinning turbines connect to generators with thousands of electromagnets surrounded by iron coils, and when the iron coils spin around the electromagnets, electricity is created in mass quantities.Inspecting the Powerplant

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Farming in the Desert

Yesterday morning we paid a visit to Ute Mountain Ute Farm & Ranch Enterprise, a 7800-acre farm operated by the Ute Mountain tribe of the Ute Nation. Their company operates as a wholesaler of produce and livestock as well as a retailer under the Bow & Arrow Foods brand. A visit to this farm ties together a number of the themes that we study throughout Classroom Earth (water diversion, water rights, and sustainability), and connects these themes to economics concepts such as supply and demand, supply chain concerns, and the trade-offs between working in wholesale and retail distribution. After our tour of their facilities and farmlands, we spoke with Eric Whyte, a member of the Ute Mountain Ute tribe and manager of the farm’s alfalfa operation.

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Back Over the Divide!

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Student Post: Arches, Canyons, the Night Sky, and Pizza Pie

This post was submitted by Walker W.

As the group started the last leg of our journey, we found ourselves focused mainly on showers and food. After 6 days of no showering, the amount of dirt and sand we managed to scrape off of our arms and legs was enormous. Finally, the group got a good night’s rest in real beds which felt heavenly. The next day was full of action and adventure as the group experienced the wonders of the arches of Utah. After several hours of climbing up and around these massive arched rocks, the group was dreaming about lunch. If you’re reading this back in Atlanta, an unlimited pizza buffet after 3 hours of hiking and climbing in the scorching heat is unlike anything ever experienced.

A few pizzas later, the boys got to have an hour in the town of Moab, Utah. While shopping for family gifts and souvenirs was fun, one of the best highlights of our day in town was The Garage, a homemade ice cream shop using -321 degrees liquid nitrogen to make their perfect desserts.

Several hours later, after some well needed rest, the group packed up some dinner and headed down to Grandview Point in Canyonlands National Park. While the group watched the sun set, we settled down and ate dinner, looking out into the massive abyss of the Green River canyons. Dark finally came. Little white dots started to appear as the group sat almost silently for 2 hours watching the magic night sky. After some pretty big shooting stars the group had to pack up and head back to the hotel to rest for the journey ahead.

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Meet Our River Guides

You’ve heard a bit about our guides in previous posts. Let me take just a moment to express a sincere word of thanks and awe, and to give parents an idea of how much CFI’s staff invests in each outdoor experience. Canyonlands Field Institute is a nonprofit outdoor education organization . . . more than just a guide company. Recognizing that we have a curriculum in place, our naturalists were always eager to lead the way in an interpretive activity or to jump in and make meaningful additions to our work.

Our trip leader Matt is primarily responsible for moving us down the river safely and in no more and no less than six days. When you’re dealing with a spring melt like ours, that’s not as easy as you would think. Matt was always the lead boat, he decided on our route within the river, our destination, and he provided a lot of background to the various campsites, mining roads, side canyons and access points along the way. He led a few of our hikes and provided deft leadership during our canoe rescue.

Heather and Evan are listed as our “Naturalist Guides” on planning documents, but they are so much more. Heather led some of our hikes, served as crew medic, and kept the boys entertained with countless games and riddles. She calmed worried minds during the canoe rescue and was our all-around Mama Bear, taking care of kid and teacher alike. In her naturalist role, Heather seized teachable moments with expert timing, inviting the boys into the natural world beneath their feet, above their heads, and along the canyon walls.

Evan, who has garnered a bit of a cult following among the boys, was our camp cook. Cook is an inadequate term. Due to last minute purchasing changes, Evan improvised a few meals or meal ingredients…yet not a single meal was anything less than spectacular. The boys are still talking about the G.O.A.T tuna salad. (GOAT: Greatest Of All Time). Evan, as you read in Will’s post, had a ready supply of games, riddles, jokes, and stories. Evan also played a key instructional role alongside Heather. Their mix of Biology and Environmental Science backgrounds made a great combination. More than any single trait, interest, specialty or responsibility, Heather and Evan committed themselves to knowing and caring about our kids. And in such a short time span, that made all the difference.

Without further ado, we’d love for you to meet our guides.

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Student Post: The Last Day on the River

This post was submitted by Hatcher B.

The river trip was no doubt the best part of the whole trip. One night in particular stood out to me the most, and that was the fifth and final night of the trip. It was the final night on the river, so we had to go out with a bang and we held a mandatory talent show all while being around a campfire. Everyone was forced to show off their talents whether they wanted to or not.

Mr. Sadtler sang a song while doing cool pen tricks. Mr. Meyer and Dev recited a soliloquy from Romeo and Juliet while doing tricks with canoe paddles. Matt sang a song and did some yodeling. Evan tricked Walker, Batelaan, and I as he told us to act out different things on a box which used to be used as a groover, which is what we used to go to the restroom. Heather stood on her hands. Batelaan, Austin, and Rothschild did a dance, “caked the muffin,” and did some clap push-ups. Andrew put some sticks in the fire. And Walker and I did a puppet show from inside our tent.

campfireMeanwhile on the same day, it was Batelaan’s birthday and Evan cooked some good sausages with some sweet potatoes and then he gave all of us a brownie cake and we all sang Happy Birthday. After the talent show, we had s’mores because it was our last night and the only night that we had a campfire. After the fire went out and we were all tired, we got to lay down and stargaze for a good amount of time. We saw a bunch of different constellations, satellites, and even some shooting stars. I really enjoyed stargazing because it isn’t something that you can do in Atlanta, and I happen to find stars very interesting along with everyone else on the trip.

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