Many people who have not been to DeathValley think of it as an inhospitable patch of sand in the middle of a desert. Although itis one of the driest areas on the planet, the land supports so much life.
Interdisciplinary studies are an important way to bring togethermany concepts. Much of education today is very segregated, especially in highschool: history, math, biology, earth science, and everything else is learnedseparately. However, it has been demonstrated that interdisciplinary studiescan grab and maintain students’ interests as well as helping them retainknowledge longer.
All of the places that we visited today can be used as aninterdisciplinary site. We started off at Scotty’s Castle and along the ride wenoticed many significant geological formations. The history of Scotty’s Castlecan be tied into the time period, with a lesson about the other economic andhistorical events that happened in the 1930s and 1940s. Also, along the ride, thetypes minerals that are abundant in the desert area can be discussed, andstudents can learn how to identify geological features, such as alluvial fansand fault lines.
We then headed to the Ubehebe craters, which are a greatanalog to formations to look for on Mars. These craters are Maar craters, wheremagma meets groundwater. The water table boils and released pressure in avolcanic eruption. The craters are what are left over after such eruptions.Many students may believe a crater is only from an asteroid or from amountainous volcano, so this site affords an opportunity to learn about allsorts of volcanic features.Weended our long day at Badwater Basin, which is one of the lowest places in theworld, at -282 feet. This used to be a sea, and this place could be used totalk about watersheds and how desertification occurs over time. We canincorporate math into this by looking at negative numbers, and students cancompare the sea levels of the lowest places in the world. This was a very longbut rewarding day as we got to take in all the beauty of Death Valley.