Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Poutine Glaciation

The end of a "geomorphology" unit in Geography 12 means one thing... the students have pulled out the stops and are unleashing their creative, intelligent projects for our mutual enjoyment. Time enough for the factual details on the unit test, this is about celebration and individual discoveries. Here are some highlights:

A glacial landscape made from poutine (video). A literal mountain of fries, shaped to show a wall of pyramidal peaks, a cirque (alpine bowl) surrounded by aretes (ridges) with a glacial valley below. Chunks of cheese represented the frost-shattered rocks that would be plucked up to become moraine or erratics. Finally, a huge bowl of hot gravy was poured on the mountains, becoming gathering ice that filled the cirque and showed the characteristic plastic flow associated with glacial advance. The boys stirred it all together and the class dove in with forks and spoons. Very tasty, very popular with the hungry kids. Hayden and Brenden were the most excited; their creation went over as they hoped, and they got to mop up the leftovers. As Nic C. put it "what could be more Canadian, a guy in a cowboy hat pouring gravy over a mountain range to make poutine."

Hydraulic Erosion (video). Kelly and Natasha worked with water and sand to show us a few things, including rill erosion and alluvial fans.

Plastic Flow (video). Caitlin and Rhianne mixed flour, water, and ? to create something that would flow like a glacier. They followed it up with basal slipping using a big chunk of ice cream, with smarties playing the part of glacial till.

Puffed Wheat Seashore. Nic C. and Milan built a blue-jello ocean with chocolatey puffed wheat seacliffs. The shoreline was broken by wave action, revealing caves, arches, and stacks. Longshore drift had carried the eroded material away to form a spit and tombolo. A couple of stick puppets guided us through this edible landscape, one of which was named Nelson Mohorovicic (an inside joke).

The Informed Traveller. Anna and Anda narrated a slideshow made up of various family trips they had been on (like Anna's trip to the Grand Canyon, her picture of a desert arch shown above), and now had the knowledge to interpret the kind of geomorphological processes that shaped the landforms in the photos. Like Blake's Innocence and Experience, the travellers will forever be affected by what they have learned, and perhaps never able to simply gaze at a vista without asking questions. Landscapes will still be filled with wonder, but also with a discerning understanding of origins and change over time. Just to make sure we got the point, A&A made us a cake in the form of a u-shaped glacial valley with a ribbon lake, truncated spurs, and aretes.

Speaking of poetry, Tegan wrote some "seapoems" for this unit, and brought out some older poetry on the same topic. Like the tide, her words ebb and flow from the reflective to the technical, and I'd be curious to see how geography tempers or challenges her poetry in the future. Nature's Choice, like Nature's Voice. You can read her verse here (pdf), or hear her read it here (audio).

Oh ya, and some cave thingy.... video to come

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