On January 9, 2013, Feynman kindergarten and first grade students took a trip to the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, VA for a trip they will not soon forget. Students gained valuable exposure to the diverse fields of science that the USGS is involved with, including but not limited to geography, geology, biology, cartography, paleontology and hydrology.

During our tour, students observed real and replicated dinosaur bones found right here in the U.S. (as well as a T-Rex footprint found in New Mexico) and learned how earthquakes are measured and tracked using a seismometer.  Students were fascinated to see that the earthquake tracker is updated every ten minutes; as they observed the tracker, it reported current earthquakes in many parts of the world. After the tour, students explored the hands-on room where they observed rocks and minerals using magnifying glasses, black lights and microscopes; created fossil rubbings; stepped into a simulated stream and listened for the steady beat of the running water using specialized headphones; and interacted with the “Frog Lady” learning how amphibians help us track the health of the earth.

But clearly the highlight of the visit was when Feynman students presented research they have done during our unit on the earth and its landforms to an audience of actual USGS scientists.  Our students excitedly shared the applicability of what they have discovered this year through model-building and many hands-on investigations. The USGS scientists were genuinely amazed by the depth of knowledge our young students have acquired thus far this year. And who knows? Maybe one day in the future, our students will have become the USGS scientists sitting in front of another group of Feynman students, amazed (but not too surprised) by their depth of knowledge.