My son's Webelos Geology achievement badge was completed today with a trip to the Lucky Lake Gem Mine in fabulous McKinney, Virginia:
I was worried that we'd get there and it just wouldn't be what we were hoping for (details are skinny on the website). We were very pleasantly surprised!
For starters, we got to dig ourselves:
There is an option to buy buckets of material (soil and rock and planted goodies) and sluice away at the giant sluicing area, but my son really wanted to dig.
Lots of muck and rocks to dig up and plop in a sieve. Once washed clean in the creek, the treasures start to show up:
I dug one spadeful - and struck it "rich" immediately:
Here's my daughter's haul for the day:
One of the best parts of the place is that a gemologist sits own with you when you're done to explain what each rock you have is:
My daughter was in sorting heaven!
Not sure how great this pic is, but this turned out to be my favorite rock from my daughter's haul. Naturally, we've already forgotten the name and forgot to get a copy of the handout, so now I'm not really sure why I'm posting this:
except that is looks like hay running through a crystal and is sometime known as Aphrodite's Hair. Cool!
My son found a Dalmatian Stone:
and you can tell why I had a hard time with Geology class in college. Cannot remember the real names to save my hide. Oh well, the common names are usually much more fun!
The trip was a culmination of a mini-unit study on geology at our house. After studying lots of rock books this week, we were excited to think that we might have found some petrified wood:
Turned out to be a piece of burnt wood (thus the charcoal marks on the picnic table) and a special type of rock.
Despite the long drive, the gem mine was a great trip. Not only were cool rocks in abundance, but to have someone handy for identification really made the education level worthwhile. The setting with the shade and picnic tables made for a comfortable place to spend a day and the staff couldn't have been more helpful.
No field trip is complete (at least for my group) without treats! McKinney seems to be completely frozen in time 50 years ago. Couldn't you see this place on and episode of "Happy Days"?
Once home, we tried out my son's gift shop purchase, a crack-by-yourself geode.
And here's what we found inside:
Not as high-tech spectacular as could be, but more than expected and better than most. Just like our field trip!