Fourth grade visits Yellowstone

Back Row: Mrs. Pollard, Mr. Simpson, Jamie Ogle, Nevaeh Gerber, Mrs. Wood, Malachi  Villarreal, Mr. Costello, Mr. Krell, Mr. Chapin. Middle Row: Mrs. Peternal, Monika Smith, Michael Banta, Laine Simpson, Traiven Atkinson, Ashlyn Riding, Payton Miller, Rebee Frankus, Katherine McAffee, Cole Costello, Colter Krell, Jersey Bookhout, Abigail Hartley. Front Row: Aiden Mikolajczyk, Isaac Higinbotham, Hadlee Wood, Aspyn Snively, McCartney Pollard, Jayce Winkler, Hayden Knauss, Carter Adams, Hunter Lain (COURTESY PHOTO)

It was 5:45 in the morning on Friday, Sept. 29, when Mrs. Peternal’s class got on the bus. We stopped at the Jackson Visitor Center and explored the displays for a little while. The roads were closed going into Yellowstone so we went to the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson. At the museum we explored the art gallery and then we put on a play in their discovery center. The roads were being cleared and it looked like they would open soon, so we left and ate lunch at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. It was chilly as we ate near the shore. After lunch the roads were open into Yellowstone so we started on our way to the Buffalo Ranch in the Lamar Valley. On the bus we got a bag of activities from the Forest Service and we did string games, it was fun. We were finally there after eleven and a half hours — even though it was long, it was a fun trip.

We arrived at camp and created our first circle as we were introduced to Ranger Matt and Ranger Evan. The second we saw them we knew they were very nice, and we were so excited to meet them. Ranger Matt told us we would meet Ranger Michael the very next day after lunch.

One thing we learned in Yellowstone from Ranger Matt was that Yellowstone changed over time, and he taught this by taking us on a time machine. The time machine is fun. We learned that billions of years ago there was no oxygen and basement rocks formed. Over time plants and dinosaurs started to come, but before that Yellowstone was under the ocean, much like Kemmerer. Trilobites and the first plants were under water during one of the ocean periods. Ranger Matt explained about the  period in time 640,000 years ago when the last caldera formed in Yellowstone. A caldera is formed when a lava spot under the ground gets bigger and pushes the crust up into a dome. The Earth cracks, releasing steam and gas, then the pressure builds up and explodes the top of the dome. Ash, smoke, and debris fill the air and then it collapses on itself. Over time, water collects in the caldera and fills up with water, forming lakes.

At Mammoth Hot springs, we tested the water with pH paper and then we tested the water with our temperature guns.

We used a temperature gun to find the highest temperature at the hot springs. Sometimes the shallow water is warmer then deeper waters. Ranger Matt had special permission and equipment to pull water from geysers and hot springs for us to test the pH. Different pH had different colors of algae and bacteria. We then took a hike and learned about Lucy the water droplet and Larry Limestone.

The purpose of the story was to teach us how travertine was made. We learned about thermal features such as fumaroles, hot springs, geysers, and mud pots. To make a thermal feature you need P2HEW. P is pipe or plumping, the second P is preservation, H is Heat, E is Earthquake, and W is water.

Ranger Michael taught us the ecology of Yellowstone. We learned about the teeth of herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.

Then we learned an animal's eyes can tell us if they are a prey or a predator. We learned about the animal families, habitats, and finally we invented animals that were suited for the situation the ranger gave us.

Ranger Michael led us on a hike around Junction Butte to look for animal life. Junction Butte actually was an old volcano.

We saw an old carcass from an elk that was killed by wolves. We knew this because there was a bone cut open and scientist do this to study and collect data if the animal brought down was sick, old, or healthy. At lunch time a bison came down and  we watched him wallow. We then played a game called wild wapiti walk it was about how the elk population changed. It also taught about the introduction of the wolves and how it changed and influenced the elk population.

The campfire ceremony was important because we did it on the last day. Ranger Michael talked about how the circle was important in Yellowstone (the circle of life). The campfire circle was important because no one was stuck in a corner and everyone could speak and hear.

We got to hear true stories and legends from the rangers and act out our own legends.

The campfire was important because we all got to say something about what we liked about Yellowstone. It was a tradition. After that campfire we went to the bunkhouse where we sang songs and ate s’mores.

At last we had to leave the Buffalo Ranch and began making our way home.

We were sad to leave, but before we left Yellowstone we stopped at an abandoned wolf den, the Painted Pots and Old Faithful.

The sights were awesome and all the animals were amazing. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun.