Located on a mountaintop! What better place to learn geology? Connecticut is a very rich state due to its geological resources.
Iron and copper provided the raw materials for colonial industry which lead to the elements of the industrial age. Stone for buildings was cut from numerous stone quarries and glaciers left us with the sand beaches and lake deposits so important to agriculture. Our geologists help students identify the rocks and minerals as well as work with the geography and land formation. Fossils and rock strata are used to interpret the past. Native artisans crafted tools from stone, all which help to define our state, its heritage and its people.
Contained in this site are maps and the text of 'The Face of Connecticut,' which serve as valuable, interpretive materials for students to learn more about Connecticut geology. Also included is an interactive map of the bedrock of Connecticut and a comprehensive list of additional geological resources.
ROCKS TELL A STORY: Our Earth is a giant rock factory. Each rock type was created by a different process. Using the Science Center's variety of samples, our geologist will relate the many beautiful rock forms to the geologic forces that shaped them.
ROCK IDENTIFICATION: This activity allows students to identify rocks from actual specimens using a simplified key to the igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic forms. Students will gain an understanding of the Rock Cycle with specimens to exemplify each stage of the cycle. Highlights will also include geologic background specific to regions of our state and identification of the rocks common to our area. This activity is generally used as a prelude to the geology field trip (see below).
MINERAL IDENTIFICATION: Minerals have many significant uses and applications in everyday life. This session gives students the simple tools for assessing mineral properties and allows them to perform tests on a number of common mineral types in order to determine what they are. Students are encouraged to work in small groups developing a data table and are coached through the process.
GEOLOGY FIELD TRIP: Students journey to carefully selected collecting sites including a mixed glacial gravel site, a garnet schist formation and a volcanic dome formation. Students will use rock hammers and goggles provided by TMSC to collect samples of field specimens which can then be used back in the classroom to make a collection. Science Center instructors will describe formations and assist students with field identification techniques. A 1 1/2 hour field trip is suggested. Also offered are a field preparation class and a post-trip identification class, if desired. Upon request, specialized trips may also be arranged.
DINOSAURS: Enjoy a trip back in time to an age when these magnificent creatures ruled the Earth. Modern evidence suggests a much more complex set of dinosaur behaviors than was previously thought. Using models, slides and genuine fossils, a Science Center instructor will illustrate physical traits of different dinosaur species and encourage students to relate these traits to behavioral characteristics.
FOSSILS: Ancient life is preserved beneath our feet, all around us, in the form of fossils. Students will learn all the ways fossils are formed, see genuine samples of each, and make their own fossils using plaster.
VOLCANOES & EARTHQUAKES ONLINE: Using computer data and animation, investigate both historical and current seismic events to understand the Earth's present-day tectonic features. Follow the major plate boundaries that shape our planet's surface as they make their way around the world.
EARTHQUAKES: How do we know where earthquakes originate? Earthquakes produce very specific movements in the Earth's crust. Using actual seismographic data from various locations, students will learn to identify the positions of earthquake epicenters through triangulation.
TOPOGRAPHICAL MAPS/GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS: Get an introduction to the latest satellite technology available for finding your position on Earth - the G.P.S. Students will learn the concepts of latitude and longitude through a unique mapping activity, then go out with G.P.S. units to locate their position on a local topographical map.
PLATE TECHTONICS & GEOLOGIC TIME: Connecticut is an ideal location to study the effects of crustal movement on the geology of the region. The collision of the African Continent with Proto-North America is evidenced in the rocks and terrain of the state. The later separation of Pangaea resulted in the formation of the rift valley in the center of the state between the Triassic and Jurassic periods. Using a combination of fossil evidence, biological clues, paleo-climatic evidence and the physical match of coastlines, your students will explore how plate tectonics have shaped the world as we see it today.
SOIL TYPES & TESTING TECHNIQUES: Learn the characteristics of the soil in your schoolyard by taking a soil profile. Students will test for color, structure, consistency, acidity, and moisture content, according to the GLOBE Program Protocols.