Clark’s class ventures to Yellowstone

COURTESY PHOTO / Kim Clark

Mrs. Clark’s fourth-grade class was the second class of Kemmerer students this year to go on Expedition Yellowstone.

Editor’s Note: Every year, Canyon Elementary fourth graders travel to participate in Expedition Yellowstone, a four-day trip designed for the students to learn about the past and present wildlife and geology of Yellowstone National Park. Mrs. Clark’s class, who went to Yellowstone on Oct. 19 to Oct. 22, wrote this article about their experience.

By Mrs. Clark’s 4th grade class

We spent an exciting four days in Yellowstone, and we couldn’t wait to tell everyone just how awesome our experience was. We loaded onto the bus bright and early on Friday, Oct. 19, at 5:45 a.m. We weren’t even 45 minutes into our trip when we saw our first moose alongside the road — so awesome! On Friday, we got to visit the Jackson Visitor Center, go through Teton National Forest, stop at Dragon’s Mouth, and see the beauty of Yellowstone Falls.

After a long bus ride, and many bathroom breaks, we arrived at our home for the weekend: Lamar Buffalo Ranch. Upon arriving we meet Ranger Trudy, who took us on a tour of our home away from home.We got unpacked in our plush, heated, log cabins, and then we found out each “clan” got a turn over the weekend cooking dinner, making breakfast, making lunches, and cleaning up after each meal.Don’t tell, but we really liked cooking and doing dishes! After dinner we got to go in a time machine, and learn from Ranger Trudy about geology and the billions of years that helped shape the Yellowstone we know and love today. 

Day two was exciting. After breakfast, we got an awesome lesson on Ph levels and taking temperatures, then we loaded the bus and headed to Norris Geyser Basin. There are so many active geysers at Norris. The biggest is Steamboat. It has been going off about once a week, and when it does, it sprays water 2 to 3 times higher than Old Faithful. It wasn’t our day to see it, but we can picture in our minds just how grand it would’ve been. We had the chance to test the pH and temperature at Norris Geyser, which was way cool.

Getting hands-on right near the hot springs was one of the best educational experiences we had. There were so many big geysers and small geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles at Norris, we didn’t want to leave. But we had to head to our next location for the day, which was Mammoth Hot Springs. We got to test the pH and temperature there too. Its water was very warm. We got ranges from 80 to 90 degrees. The pH was surprising — it was around a 7, which is pure water. We got to learn about Angel Terrace. Limestone is a fairly soft rock, which allows travertine to grow fast and create almost stair step style formations. It was gorgeous.  After returning to the ranch and getting a good dinner made by one of the clans, we got an amazing lesson by Ranger Matt about skulls, teeth, predators and prey. We were able to explore tons of skulls and use our investigating skills to help us discover what skull matched what animal. 

After a packed day two, we couldn’t wait to see what day three would bring. We started the day by learning about ecology, which is the study of the relationships between living things and their surroundings, or environment. We then got to create an invented animal. We were given adaptations and habitats that might be different from what a normal animal would have or might live in. We got to present our “new” animal to the class and give all the details and description of how it lives, what it looks like, and how it survives. Next, we loaded onto the bus again, but this time we headed out for Lost Lake. We got to stop and see a very large petrified tree before going on our hike.  The hike was beautiful, warm, and a little challenging, but we did great. 

We looked for signs of animals (scat, prints in the dirt, and marks on the trees). We saw a really big claw mark left in a tree by a bear. Along our hike we got to eat lunch in the wilderness, study and learn about the different trees and how to tell them apart.We also learned about the wapiti and wolf populations. It was  an informative day, full of great knowledge about the ecology of Yellowstone. Once we returned to the ranch and had dinner, we got to sit around a campfire, reflect on what we’ve learned over the weekend, watch each clan perform a legend, sing songs, and listen to stories about Yellowstone from our Rangers.

Four days went by in a flash, but we weren’t going to leave Yellowstone without a few more stops. Just a few miles from the Lamar Buffalo Ranch is the original wolf den that the alpha male wolf  lived in when the wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone, back in 1995. We got to see it firsthand, crawl inside, and we even got our picture with it.

Finally, we ended our trip with the grand finale…Old Faithful!  It erupts about every 90 minutes, but we only had to wait 30 minutes. Talk about great timing. It was impressive to say the least.

We had such a memorable four days, filled with fun, laughter, exploration, investigation, and a comradery that will last a lifetime.  We want to tell everyone to go and experience Yellowstone, the gem that is right outside our backdoor!

We had so many great experiences, we each wanted say our favorite part of our Expedition Yellowstone adventure:

Brinley – Old Faithful was my favorite.  There is pressure underneath the geyser that makes it erupt about every 90 minutes.

Ally – I really liked Dragon’s Mouth.  It had steam coming out of a cave.  It sounded like a dragon breathing.  So cool!

Hunter – Lost Lake was awesome!  The ground was squishy and bouncy from the water and mud.  We found bison bones and we saw a bear scratch on a tree.  There was also a big pile of acorns that a squirrel was storing for winter.

Regina – I really liked hiking.  We got to see a lot of nature, like 6 moose during the entire trip.  We also saw buffalo and elk too.

Hali – I liked making an invented animal.  It had three different animal parts.  Mine was the Venomous Snog.  It was a frog with webbed feet, wings from a duck, and a snake tail that I drew.  My clan had to make its habitat and adaptations to help it live.

Anna – Vixon is a small geyser in Norris Geyser Basin.  It looks like a mini Old Faithful and was by far the coolest thing I saw on the trip.  Everyone should go see it.

Tessa – Angel Terrace was the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.  It is at Mammoth and the beautiful orange and white travertine that created stair steps up the hillside was very pretty.  The dead trees inside the travertine were symmetrical.

Addison – Steamboat was my favorite geyser at Norris.  It had a lot of steam and I really wanted it to erupt.

Ledger – I liked the rock called geyserite.  It sounds like “guys are right.”  It made me laugh.  I also liked learning about P2HEW.  It stands for pressure, preservation, heat, earthquakes, and water.

Tucker – The elk were my favorite, they are also called wapiti.  We played a game called “wild wapiti walk,” that helped me learn about their population and how they survive. 

Kimberleigh – I liked learning about the different trees we have in Yellowstone.  A bundle of two can form and “L” which means it’s a lodge pole pine.  Also, some of the trees in Mammoth look like they have white socks on them, because of the minerals in the ground.

Joscelin – In Norris Geyser Basin there is a geyser named Steamboat.  It has a rock that is shaped like E.T.  As the steam blew away E.T. came out.  It was so cool.

Abram – I learned that Steamboat Geyser shoots water higher than Old Faithful.  I liked that my dad got to experience the trip with me.

Temperance – I liked learning about PH.  We got to learn that liquids can be neutral, acidic, or alkaline.  We got to test it two times.  The pH at Angel Terrace, at Mammoth, had a pH of 7.

Savannah – The mud pots were cool.  They would bubble up and pop.  There is heat and air underneath the mud, that would make it bubble.  The noises it made and how thick the mud was made it the best.

Eva – I liked going to Yellowstone Falls.  The waterfall came down the canyon and was really pretty.  It was really big and deep.

Lily – I liked going to Old Faithful. I liked going to the exhibit hall and learning how geysers are formed.

Riley – I think it was really cool to take the temperature of the water at Norris and at Mammoth.  The water was very warm.  My highest temperature was 97 degrees. 

Grayce – The bison were big and everywhere.  We stayed at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch.  We got to see buffalo right outside the bunkhouse, while we were in class. It was so cool!

Noah – I loved when Ranger Trudy taught us about when Steamboats erupts, there is another hot spring called “sister spring” that drains when Steamboat erupts.  It was a good experience for my first time in Yellowstone.  It was a little cold at night, but it was really warm during the day.  I was glad my dad was able to come and experience it with me.

Cole – I liked learning about the elk and wolf populations, and how the population of both rise and fall each year.  I also liked learning about the different types of rocks at Norris and at Mammoth.

Zach – I liked studying about the petrified tree.  I learned that when the pores of the tree filled in with minerals it makes it stiff like stone and fossilized.

Jonas – I loved going to the wolf den.  I think everyone should go see it, before it erodes away.

Jade – I liked learning about the fish in Yellowstone.  I also really liked talking to Ranger Matt about the pika. 

Samantha – I enjoyed studying skulls. I find it fascinating how much they weigh.  I liked learning about how the eyes are forward on a predator skull, and on the side on a prey skull.  I really like cooking and anytime I can cook I want to do it.