Cokeville sixth graders visit Yellowstone

The Cokeville sixth grade class visited Yellowstone National Park from Nov. 6 to Nov. 10. The class learned about the park’s natural history from Yellowstone park rangers. (COURTESY PHOTO / Marti Warner)

Our class went to Expedition Yellowstone from Nov. 6 to Nov. 10. To go to Yellowstone, we had to raise money for several years. We sold T-shirts and sweatshirts at the Cokeville Volleyball tournament and we also helped out at the Halloween Carnival. All of the sixth graders had a turn working a booth at the carnival. Even when we were in 5th grade, we made sloppy joes for the carnival, and in 4th grade we sold cupcakes.

Before we left for Yellowstone Mrs. Warner taught us several lessons so we would be well prepared for this trip. On the way to Yellowstone our class had a sing-off — girls vs. boys. The girls definitely won, according to them. When we went through Montana we saw a herd of bighorn sheep.

When we entered Yellowstone, we stopped at the Roosevelt Arch and took some pictures. We arrived at the mess hall and dorms where we met park rangers Matt and Mel.

(COURTESY PHOTO / Marti Warner)

That evening, we had class on geology. We went back in time to before Yellowstone was a national park and learned how plate tectonics and climate change had affected the park.

Class was over so we were sent up to get ready for bed. We had to have lights out at 9:30 p.m — but we stayed up until 10:45 p.m. because we were too excited to sleep. While at Expedition Yellowstone we performed a skit about how Travertine Terraces were made.

The main characters were Lucy the water droplet, played by Savannah Bell; and Larry Limestone, played by Jack Harrild.

Later that day we tested hot springs to find out their temperature and acidity. Most of the hot springs we tested were around seven pH, which means neutral. In other areas of the park, the hot springs are much more acidic. Our favorite hot spring was Orange Spring Mound. We saw several deer and bison during our experiments..

For Ecology Day, we started off by having a class on keying out a skull to tell if it was a predator or prey, and if it was an herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore.

Cokeville sixth graders learn about animal adaptations during Expedition Yellowstone. (COURTESY PHOTO / Marti Warner)

Ranger Michael then asked us to invent a new animal that could live in Yellowstone based on a specific habitat and three different adaptations. The animals we invented were the Owlserpent, the Fotterpine, the Chipslider, and the Centa Dragon.

Ranger Matt had chosen Braydee (a girl in our class) to become a beaver. She looked hysterical once he added all the beaver adaptations to her. This class helped us learn about animal adaptations.

When we were done with our morning class we got ready for our short but amazing hike. On our hike we saw many things, including a petrified tree and a beautiful lake. We followed our ranger and the whole time he was following coyote, wolf and buffalo tracks. We also saw bear scratch marks on a tree and there were places where bison had laid down.

We stopped and had an afternoon game. It was called Wild Wapiti Walk. Most elk don’t die from predators. They die from the lack of food, water, shelter, and space. When there are no predators the land can get over-grazed.

On human history day, we learned about Ed Howell, who was a poacher in Yellowstone. He poached more than 15 bison, and it’s because of him that the Lacey Act was made. The act made it so that poaching is not legal in Yellowstone, and today it is not legal to poach in other National Parks as well.

In Mammoth Hot Springs we visited a museum that tells about the animals and history of Yellowstone. It is a great museum and we think everyone should go there sometime.

A little way up the hill there is a wikiup that Sheep Eaters might have made a long time ago. The Sheep Eaters were famous for making bows out of sheep horns. They traded the bows for things they needed.

We also drove to Rescue Creek. There were a lot of cacti. First our ranger showed us an old tepee ring made from rocks and we found pieces of obsidian. We hiked and saw bighorn sheep, antelope, and elk. Then we went to a shooting range where the army used to practice; we found bullets and old glass from the army. While we were leaving we saw a coyote.

Then we tracked down a wolf collar that scientists use to keep track of wolves (one wolf had lost his.) Then we hiked back to the bus to leave.

At the classroom, the ranger made a pretend fire. We told our legends around it. We also passed a horn allowing each person a chance to talk about what they learned or experienced while they spent the week in Yellowstone. This week was a great experience that we will never forget! We would like to thank all our parents, the PTO, our principal, and our teacher for helping us make this trip possible.