The forces that have shaped the area around Lake Mead include collisions between continents, extension that stretched and fractured the Earth’s crust, volcanic eruptions, inundation by tropical seas, growth and decline of great deserts and lakes, and finally, sculpting of the land by water and wind. Evidence of these processes is dramatically displayed in Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Guided Hoover Dam Tour
Grand Classroom participants take the "Discovery Tour" at Hoover dam that allows them to hear a lectured presentation by professional guides, access to the Exhibit Hall, Visitor's Center, the indoor/outdoor observations decks and a 25 minute movie on the dam's original construction.
Viewing this magnificent, massive man made structure creates a respect for man's accomplishments. The strong desire to harness nature's power drove the human mind and body to build Hoover Dam in the hottest, driest area of the United States. In doing so, the seasonal flooding of the Colorado River was eliminated and millions of people now have drinking water and irrigation during the dry season. Students learn how the builders triumphed over environmental and engineering difficulties to complete the monumental task to build the largest dam known to man in 1935.
Museum of Northern Arizona with docent
Groups visit the Museum of Northern Arizona and view exhibits relating to the Museum's four main disciplines anthropology,biology, geology, and fine art. The Museum has permanent exhibits in five galleries and changingexhibits in three additional galleries.
IMAX - Grand Canyon "The Hidden Secrets"
The students view this 35 minute IMAX movie, getting an overview of the spectacular vistas, the history of its explorations, and the hidden canyon experiences. The movie is a great combination of entertainment and education for our groups and a comprehensive introduction to what they are about to see in the canyon.
Grand Canyon tour with guide/Hike with guide (to ability)
The groups spend two days at the Grand Canyon. The second day is spent with a licensed local guide who organizes hikes for the group based on ability and weather conditions.
Subjects covered include the human history of the canyon. Following 300 years of missionaries, trappers, explorers, government surveyors and soldiers, Major John Wesley Powell and his party of nine made the first successful boat trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1869. By the late 1800s, the spectacular beauty of the Canyon began to draw both visitors and businessmen alike. In 1901 the first Santa Fe passenger train arrived at the South Rim. Grand Canyon became a national monument in 1908 and on February 26, 1919, it was designated as the seventeenth national park.
They will also learn quite a bit about the geology of the Grand Canyon. Although there is not a definitive answer to how it was formed, there are some truths that will be discovered by the students. The most powerful force to have an impact on the Grand Canyon is erosion, primarily by water (and ice) and second by wind. Other forces that contributed to the Canyon's formation are the course of the Colorado river itself, vulcanism, continental drift and slight variations in the earths orbit which in turn causes variations in seasons and climate.
Guided Colorado River Float to Lee's Ferry
The Grand Canyon officially begins at Lee's Ferry, and the students take a half-day float trip to this launching point. The students will view the Kaibab formation, a light band of limestone angling out above the water the upper layer at the rim of the Grand Canyon gorge. This limestone was deposited in horizontal layers at the bottom of an inland sea more than 200 million years ago. Subsequently, as these layers uplifted and warped, the Colorado River sliced down through them. The Kaibab Formation becomes visible here, 3,000 feet above sea level, and climbs to 8,500 feet at the North Rim of Grand Canyon, 90 river miles away. Licensed guides ride with the groups on the boats to give them an expert description.
Grand Classroom groups visit the Lowell Observatory's evening program, which features telescope viewing and a discussion of the night sky. The students get a look through the historic Clark Telescope and may view celestial objects such as the moon, planets Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, globular and open star clusters, double stars, nebulae, and more!
Tour of Wupatki
One of the more popular tour stops is Wupatki National Monument. It was once home to prehistoric Anasazi and Sinagua farmers and traders -- the Hisatsinom, as their Hopi descendants call them. Today, this 54 square miles of the Monument preserves many free-standing masonry pueblos, field houses, rock art, pottery, baskets and tools -- extraordinary evidence of a varied and complex lifestyle. Altogether, more than 2,700 archeological sites have been cataloged at Wupatki National Monument.Learn more about Wupatki and Sunset Crater.
Students enjoy seeing this volcanic crater formed just before 1100 AD. Its upper portion is colored as if by a sunset. Sunset Crater appeared when molten rock was ejected into the air from a small crack in the Earth's crust. When this material fell to the ground, it was already solid and came down as large bombs and smaller cinders. This volcanic activity continued over 200 years building and re-shaping the cone and eventually creating a 1,000-foot cinder cone volcano around the vent. An 800 square mile radius was dusted with ash from this volcano. Lava flowed from the fissure both in 1064 and again in 1180. Over time new gas vents opened up forming spatter cones around the main cinder cone. In a final burst of activity, around 1250, lava containing iron and sulfur shot out of the vent. This lava then oxidized red and yellow, these colors painting the crater with a permanent "sunset" so bright that it appears still to glow from intense inner heat.Learn more about Wupatki and Sunset Crater.