Ian struggled up the sand dune wearing a set of MadMax style googles and pulling his sled behind him. In the background other students tested their sliding devices on the steep slope for the friction test, some went really fast like the snowboards, while others, like the laundry basket, hardly moved. Dramatic falls inspired laughter as some students rag dolled, bouncing off of the sand in their own unintended friction tests. Brittany held a stopwatch at the bottom and timed them while Jacqui divided them into teams, Sparta and Thesylians as the students are studying Ancient Greece. The teams lined up and raced against their rivals, while cheering each other on. Smiles lined everyone’s faces and we took back not only the results from our friction test but incredible memories that will easily bring back those same smiles to our lips when we recount them to our friends and family.
The friction test was probably the highlight for most of the students on the Sand Dunes course but so much more happened. They drew the depths of the Black Canyon, learned about the various forms of Sand Dunes and how they are formed, licked Aspen trees, jumped into freezing cold mountain waters, hiked into the Sand Dunes at night without headlamps, set up and took down our camps and played just for the sake of playing. Jacqui read about Ancient Greece, a park ranger led a guided natural history tour, which was as delicious as it was educational and Brittany helped us analyze our friction test data.
Then there was the Gator Farm, a truly unique experience in which we got to handle a variety of rescued animals including baby alligators, tarantulas and snakes. This whole scene was a strange oasis of non-native animals, rescued and brought to a high desert where a thermal spring warmed their pools.
The whole trip was a little surreal, white sand dunes abutting the Sangre de Cristo mountains, alligators in the desert, the depths of the Black Canyon and the amount of learning and team building that went on over the course of those 5 days.