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Dana Hunter
Dana Hunter's posts

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In which I show you what's inside those very wonderful bags of earth science goodness I picked up for my honorary nieces and nephews, and show you how to score some for yourselves! I mean, for science-loving kids you know.

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There's no better place for a geology buff in summer than a shingle beach. Seriously. Everyone else can keep their sweeps of pristine sand covered in sunbathing humans. If you've got a rock lover in the family, or if you yourself are enamored with everything from pebbles to batholiths, you've really got to get yourself to a shingle beach this summer.

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So. You want to go. And you want to be as prepared as possible. Or you can't go just yet, but you want to dream of that perfect trip up her flanks. I've got everything you need right here. I've gone back through our entire archives here at Rosetta Stones and collected absolutely every post I've ever written. Here they are: the guides, the Catastrophe series, the eruption photos series, my review of Richard Waitt's marvelous book, and all the extras, put together in one place so you don't have to go searching.

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Kids and rocks are made for each other. I think most of us were at least temporarily fascinated by some little pebble we picked up. I've never yet met a kid I couldn't get thoroughly smitten with rocks within about thirty seconds after saying hello. Kids like rocks. It's just that too often, grownups forget to nurture that passion, and we lose budding geologists to other sciences instead.

So I'm always on the lookout for kids' books that will help me ignite a lifelong adoration for the good science of rock-breaking. I've already found the absolute most perfect book for getting kids started: Everybody Needs a Rock. But that one's not about the science of rocks, per se, so I'm on the hunt for a companion volume.

A strong contender is Rocks: Hard, Soft, Smooth, and Rough by Natalie M. Rosinsky.

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Let’s have a road trip, shall we?

We’re on our way to Mount St. Helens today. The skies are very nearly clear – by Washington state standards, anyway. Warm sun mingles with a cool breeze that snickers about autumn’s imminent arrival. You’ve got your nose plastered to the car window as we drive up Spirit Lake Memorial Highway from Castle Rock. All you’re seeing at this point are low hills and a flat bit of valley, plastered with green stuff. Biology is a perennial problem for geologists round here. You can barely see the hills for the trees. And you can’t even tell we’re driving along the shore of a lake. But here it is: visible in satellite views, anyway.

We turn off at the Mount St. Helens Visitor’s Center. Lovely building, quite a lot of nice displays, and a nice nature trail along Silver Lake.

And you’re just burning for your first glimpse of Mount St. Helens her own self, but the clouds aren’t cooperating. That’s quite all right, because I want you to focus on the lake for a bit. Maybe it’ll help if I tell you Mount St. Helens created it.

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First, let me take your breath away. Just for a moment. I'll give it back, I promise.

Back in 2010, my intrepid companion and I went geotrekking with Lockwood, and he took us to see some ethereal dunes on the Oregon coast just north of Florence. This photo comes from a viewpoint somewhere past Darlingtonia Wayside. The grass-covered sand seems to stretch away into forever. It's sand as I'd seldom seen it growing up. But I've lived my life surrounded by dunes.

Where I grew up, sand dunes were a dry-land sort of thing. There's all sorts of places in Arizona where you can do the dunes, Yuma being among the more impressive. We passed through there on the way to San Diego once, and I recall being rather astounded by the sea of sand. Those dunes would qualify as mountains in some of the flatter parts of the country. I snapped a picture of them on the way through, but have since lost it. So, engage your imagination, and pretend we're looking at a picture of pale yellow sand looming outside the car window, with a wonderful little blurred bare tree accenting just how much sand and how little vegetation we're looking at.

The dunes I grew up on had long given up on being shifting sands. They'd once been as wild and free as the sands of Yuma. But when I knew them, they'd become rather different:

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Geology might not be quite as weird as quantum physics, but it's got its moments.

There's a great many weird things to choose from, but I'll tell you what warps my mind: seeing things we normally think of as temporary preserved forever in stone.

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On Earth Day, tens of thousands of scientists and science supporters marched in cities all over America and around the world. Their mission: to stand up for science in the face of the Trump administration, which has presented an unprecedented threat to American scientific endeavors. They sent a clear message: science is valuable, and we will protect it.

Now that the marches are over, what can you do to help?

In the coming months, I'll be sharing ways you can support scientists and science education. And it all starts today, with a postcard.

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Despite all our efforts, Betsy DeVos is the Secretary of Education. She's been on the job for several weeks now, and we've got a good idea of where she's taking America's public schools. In short: it's nowhere good.

So what has she been up to since she was confirmed?

She erased student debt protections against high fees charged to borrowers by guaranty agencies.

She installed a white woman as head of the department's Office for Civil Rights whose only real experience with civil rights law is 1) claiming she was discriminated against because she couldn't join a class section reserved for minorities and 2) writing an op-ed for the campus newspaper whining about affirmative action. Also, she apparently thinks women are only telling the truth about being sexually assaulted if they accuse a liberal man of attacking them.

She talked the talk about protecting trans students, but hasn't walked the walk. It's nice that she got language about LGBT students deserving protection from bullying, but it would've been nicer if she'd insisted they be allowed to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. (You can join Laverne Cox's postcard writing campaign here.)

She's a huge proponent of the voucher programs that pour public money into private religious schools (yes, even the ones that use a terrible curriculum like ACE) – and this after it's been shown that voucher students "have fared worse academically compared to their closely matched peers attending public schools." Also, too, voucher programs are a great way to enable unscrupulous people to line their pockets with federal and state taxpayer money.

And so much more! Read all the ways at Rosetta Stones.

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