Virtual Learning

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Hi everyone! I’m Ranger Kelsey and I am a Park Ranger at Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. Usually when I tell people I am a Park Ranger, they will ask me, “What exactly do you do as a Park Ranger?” That’s a great question, because I do a lot of different, cool and exciting jobs. Join me, as I discuss my role and what it means to be a Park Ranger.

There are park rangers all over the United States of America. There are national parks in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Samosa. Each line of black righting on this map, marks a national park. There is at least one National Park in each state. Take a guess as to how many national parks there are just by looking the map. Pause the video now to think about your answer. There are 419 units in the National Park Service! Now that’s a lot of parks. Now that we now have many National Parks there are, let’s look at few parks you might recognize.

Did you recognize any of these National Parks? How about this one? This is my park, Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park! As a Ranger at Paterson Great Falls it is my responsibility to take care of the area and protects its story.

To better understand what I do as a ranger, let’s look at this symbol. First let’s talk about what a symbol is. Symbols are special signs that can represent a person, place, company or item. This is the symbol for the National Park Service. What do you see in this symbol? Pause the video now and take a few seconds to really look at the symbol.

I see mountains. A big sequoia trees. Sequoia trees are the tallest trees in the world. They can grow to be taller than the Statue of Liberty! This animal on the bottom is called a bison. A lake. And of course, there are words, so you know this symbol represents the National Park Service. There is one part of the symbol we forgot to name. It’s the shape of the symbol itself. Pause the video now and try to guess what the symbol is in the shape of.

If you said it looks like an arrow, you are right! We call this symbol the Arrowhead.

Now let’s go over the meaning behind this symbol.

The bison represents wildlife. As a park ranger it is my duty to protect the wildlife that live in the park. Here are some animals you can find at my park.

The lake, tree and mountains all represent land, plants, and water. It is a big part of my job to make sure the water stays clean, and the land and plants are cared for.

The arrowhead shape represents historical and cultural values. The way I protect my park is by sharing its story with people. When people visit National Parks and listen to a ranger talk, it keeps the park’s story alive. And this is how Park Rangers, like myself are able to protect a park’s nationally significant story.

Hello again! I hope you enjoyed that video and had a lot of fun learning. Now I have a special project for you. The arrowhead symbol is very important to me because it describes my role as a park ranger. I want you to create your very own symbol. Use this black arrowhead to display what is most important in your life and what describes you.. Maybe instead of drawing a bison you draw your favorite animal. When you have completed your symbol share its meaning with a friend or family member.

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4 minutes, 25 seconds

Use this video to learn more about the different jobs a Park Ranger can do, and the story behind the National Park Service symbol. This Virtual Learning activity is recommended for kindergartners to third graders. Directions: Watch this attached video with a friend or family member. Be sure to pause the video each time it is asked. Work with a friend or family member to figure out the answers to the Ranger’s questions.

Blank Arrowhead Symbol
Black National Park Service symbol template.


After Video Activity

  • Be sure to watch the entire video before starting the activity.
  • Use the Blank Arrowhead as your template for the activity.

  • If you would like to create your own symbol shape, that’s fine too!

  • When you are done creating your symbol explain its meaning to a friend or family member.

  • We would love to see your symbols once its finished. With permission from an adult, post your symbol to social media and tell us about its meaning.

Black background. In the center, showing the Earth split open to point out its different layers.
Layers of the Earth, specifically pointing out the inner and outer core.


An Introduction to Paterson Geology for Kids

What is geology?

It’s more than the study of rocks. Geology is the study of the physical features and history of Earth. It is also helpful for predicting earthquakes and other natural hazards.
Rock cycle showing the different ways rocks are form and shape.
The rock cycle shows how the three types of rocks are formed.

USGS image

Types of Rocks

  • Formed through the cooling and hardening of magma or lava. In other words, this is a volcanic rock, but it does not always have to come from a volcano. (See Pangea)
  • Sedimentary rocks are made when sand, mud and pebbles get laid down in layers from either erosion or weathering. Over time, these layers are squished under more and more layers. Eventually, the layers are harden and turn to rock. Sedimentary rocks can be formed in deserts, lakes, rivers and seas.
  • A metamorphic rock is a type of rock which has been changed by extreme heat and pressure. Take apart the word metaphoric and you get “meta” meaning to change and “morph” meaning to form.
  • Erosion happens when rocks and sediments are picked up and moved to another place by ice, water, wind or gravity.
  • Weathering is the process where rock is dissolved, worn away or broken down into smaller and smaller pieces.
World view showing the supercontinent, Pangea. The seven continent bound together into one land mass.
Supercontinent pictured as a full Earth view and a map view of the seven continent bound together into one land mass.


Over 200 billion years ago the seven continents were mushed together into one giant supercontinent known as Pangea. About 175 million Pangea started to break apart into the seven continents we know today. When Pangea started to break apart this cause a lot of hot magma to bubble up from the Earth’s core and turn into lava while on the Earth’s surface. Over time the lava cooled into hard rock type called igneous rock.

Magma vs. Lava
Scientists use the term magma for molten (melted) rock that is underground and lava for molten rock that breaks through the Earth's surface.
Glacial Lake Passaic changing shape and flow over time.
Glacial Lake Passaic changing its course over time.


A glacier is a large area of thick ice that remains frozen from one year to the next. Glaciers also slowly flow over the land. Thousands of years ago, large parts of the world were covered with glaciers.
About 100,000 years ago, there was a giant glacier that covered a large portion of North America. This glacier was named the Wisconsin Glacier. The tall glacier then began to level off and became a think sheet of ice called the Laurentide Ice Sheet.

Putting it Altogether – How Did the Great Falls Get Here?
About 200 million years ago, the area where Paterson Great Falls is today was located along a boundary between the massive continental plates of Pangea. As the plates moved, Pangea began tearing apart causing lava flows. These lava flows hardened and are now preserved as the basalt bedrock you see at the Great Falls today. Millions of years after the lava cooled, glaciers covered the region in what has been called The Last Ice Age. The glaciers may have been up to 10,000 feet thick. The glaciers carved the landscape and formed the hills and valleys we see in the region today. Aproximately 12,500 years ago the planet warmed and the glaciers began to melt. As they melted, the resulting water formed a lake hundreds of feet deep, today known as Glacial Lake Passaic. The lake existed in Northern New Jersey up until about 14,000 years ago. Overtime the lake drained and flowed into the prehistoric Passaic River. The melting and retreat of the glaciers uncovered passes in the hilly landscape and the prehistoric Passaic River found one of these new routes and changed its course, carving a new path and the chasm of the Great Falls.

Additional Links:
Check out these videos to learn more about the geology of Paterson and the Great Falls.

Geology Part 1 - How the Rocks Got to the Falls:

Geology Part 2 - How the Passaic River Came to the Falls:

Last updated: May 20, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

72 McBride Avenue Extension
Paterson, NJ 07501


(973) 523-0370

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