“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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back Over the Divide!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Student Post: An Unexpected Swim

This post was submitted by Dev J.

The river trip was probably one of the best parts of Classroom Earth 2017 so far. However, I had a rough time on day four. Mr. Sadtler and I were canoeing on a day that had choppy waters and everlasting wind. Somehow we ended up perpendicular to the current and a nasty roar of wind crashed into the side of our canoe. For a split second, I felt the canoe sway and the next thing I felt was the freezing cold water up to my neck. Although I was shocked about what happened at that moment, I knew that I had to stay calm and follow safety instructions rather than panicking. Eventually, we swam to the other canoes, and my fellow peers and guides managed to flip our canoe with nothing lost in the bottom of the Green River.

Even though I experienced a hardship on day four, it made me realize how my experiences on the river trip shaped my character. I had begun to connect all of the dots between the team building and bonding activities we had done together. I recognized how significant it is to have a cooperative team because it really helps when you need it. Although there were many games, activities, riddles, and jokes, I feel that my favorite part of the trip was the flipped canoe because it helped develop my character.


draw stroke


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Student Post: An Ode to Evan, an unforgettable guide

This post was submitted by Will R.

In my opinion, the greatest part of the trip was [CFI Naturalist Guide] Evan’s riddles, stories, and jokes. Evan’s head just seemed to be filled with endless jokes and riddles. Evan had so many stories that at the fourth campsite, when it was incredibly windy, we sat down behind a rock and just listened to him go on and on.


CFI guides Evan and Heather entertain the boys during the heat of the day


The stories just seemed to keep on coming. We sat under that rock for over two and a half hours!! That afternoon was very important to the whole river trip. It was really windy, Ted the Loon [Señor Sadtler’s river name] and Dev had just flipped, and we we were all just tired. That experience created a much better environment for the whole river trip and greatly increased everyone’s moods. Evan’s jokes usually ended in us groaning from the punniness, but the stories…the stories were the real deal.

Evan’s stories could enchant us. They would go on for up to ten minutes keeping us latched to every detail. Just when we would think we were getting the story, another twist would be added leaving us laughing until we were about to pee ourselves. I would tell y’all the stories now, but i think your sons want to tell you them in person. The stories definitely helped us through the windy times. Evan’s jokes were another story; he would have a slight build-up and then drop the pun on top just to seal the deal. Some of them were very funny puns, which inspired my brilliant MC’ing of the talent show, but the others were… something. They usually ended with us cringing until we explode or the solid groan and disappointed stare.

Without Evan, this river trip wouldn’t have been nearly as fun or as funny. His jokes, stories, and riddles filled any silences left in the air. I don’t know if any of us would’ve survived without them. From what I’ve heard from Clark and Senor Loon this trip was a lot more humorous than their last trip down the river, and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

High Water, High Wind, High Spirits


Moving deeper into the Labyrinth, making some miles before the afternoon winds crank up.

The float down Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River is famed as a leisurely flatwater float, but as we drove down into the desert from the Rockies last week, it was obvious that early-summer runoff was peaking and that our river experience was going to be an interesting one. But as it happened, a muscular high flow was only half of the challenge that faced us; Thursday dawned with a steady wind blowing across the desert, and the combination of the two made paddling anything but leisurely from the start. By the time we reached a suitable site for a first-night’s camp, we were all pretty wrung out and feeling the weight of five more days into the unknown. You could see the worry on the boys’ faces as they tried to make camp for the first time, the tents flapping wildly and threatening to rip out of their hands and sail into the river.

tent flapping

Tent wrangling, a skill that definitely improves with practice.

journal in trin alcove

Holing up in a side canyon off of a side canyon for a little journaling and a respite from the sun and the wind.

But a glorious thing happened as we slipped deeper into Labyrinth, the canyon deepening and getting more beautiful with every turn; we steadily redefined our comfort zones and let our worries slip away, drawing strength from each other and the energy and enthusiasm of our indefatigable guides. Not that the conditions changed all that much; on Day Four a sudden gust of wind caught Mr. Sadtler and Dev on the broadside with an audible “wop” and promptly capsized their canoe, sending the rest of us scurrying to effect a textbook rescue.


Evan and Heather teaching us about aquatic life in a side canyon stream bed.

rock skipping

Rock skipping competition at Camp Three in Keg Spring Canyon.

The river seemed to reward us on the last two days with calm conditions and cool, impossibly starry nights, and by the time we took out this morning no one was in a hurry to leave. There’s too much to say about a six-day expedition than can fit into a single post, so we’re going to ask the boys to contribute some short vignettes over the next couple of days. Stay tuned to this space for their posts!


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment