Monday, April 20, 2009

Homeschool Day at Crystal Cave

Today was filled with rocks, minerals, bats, caves, stalactites and stalagmites, crystals and a wishing room! It was home school day and we decided it was a great day to explore a cave. We stopped by our co-op to pick up some sandwiches for lunch and then we were on our way to Spring Valley, Wisconsin. We traveled through the beautiful rolling hills of western Wisconsin for about 40 minutes; it was a great day for traveling. Before the tour, we explored the gift shop and waited for the tour to begin. We were first shown a very informative video about the caves, how they were formed, animals that inhabit the caves, and how they were discovered. Then Chris, our tour guide took over. When we gathered to meet him his first question to the kids was "how many of you are home schoolers?" Since it was home school day, all of the kids raised their hands. He said that was cool and told us that he was also home schooled! What a great way for our kids to learn...from someone who understood what they do all day and is passionate and learned about this subject! He was a great guide and we learned so much! What a great value, too. We were in the caves for at least 45 minutes and never, ever got bored or felt that we were being rushed!
Here we are going down into the second level.
The cave walls are limestone. The caves were formed by carbonic acid (the stuff in soda pop) over a million years.
We did get lucky enough to meet some of the cave's inhabitants, which was AH's favorite part of the tour (yes, he is my naturalist!):

These guys are Little Brown Bats and Northern Myotis

This guy is smaller than your pinkie finger and he blends right in with the walls! He is an Eastern Pipistrelle.

Some of the beautiful formations we saw today.

At one point in the tour we were taken into an inner chamber and all the lights were turned off so we could experience total darkness. I had to hold onto AH for courage! Then Chris turned the lights back on at the level of a kerosene lamp so we could appreciate how little light the first explorers of the cave had. I'm pretty sure I would not have had the courage to explore those caves with such little light!

The last chamber on the tour was the wishing room. The walls were covered in coins. Legend has it that if your coin sticks on the wall, your wish will come true. AH took a coin and pressed his to the wall...and it stuck! Chris told us the oldest coin they have found was from 1882. That is one year after the cave was discovered.

All in all, a great way to spend our day!

No comments: