Walks rock when you’re looking for rocks

Photo of a turtle on a glass caseopens IMAGE file

This week, Teddy the turtle heads to the Dickinson County Nature Center lower level to check out the geology exhibit.

rock collectionopens IMAGE file

From Colorado to Texas, New York to Arkansas, volunteer Jerry Wiekamp traveled the United States, visiting mines and collecting geological specimens that are now on display at the Dickinson County Nature Center.

Photo of rock collectionopens IMAGE file

The gold ore came from the Homestake Gold Mine in South Dakota, 1.75 miles below the surface of the Earth. A piece of petrified wood --- ancient wood with cells replaced by minerals such as quartz --- came from a trip to Wyoming. A piece of shale from the Green River in Wyoming has a fossilized fish, a small prehistoric herring.

Wiekamp categorized all his rocks by name, composition, category, location of origination and description. Read his notes here.opens PDF file Photo of man working rock exhibitopens IMAGE file

If you have a rock-lover in the family, check out the exhibit in the lower level of the Dickinson County Nature Center. Then take this week's activity challenge!

Grab the little ones and head outside in the beautiful spring weather to unearth rocks in the mud.

For tiny tots, try gathering rocks by size, shape or color. Encourage your toddler to describe their rocks --- is it smooth? Rough? Sparkly? Gray? Red? Smooth?

(Try a shape walk!)

For older children, gather a variety and then head to an identification website, such as this backyard rock identifier, and write down what type of rocks they have found. It might be scoria, a reddish or black rock with lots of bubble holes. It could be slate, dark gray and breaks into mostly flat pieces.

Lay your rocks out on a sheet pan, and then sprinkle them with what. What happens to the rocks when the water hits them?

Each week, check out our blog for inspiring ideas of how to get your kids outside and passionate about the world around them!