Field Trips

Fire and Ice: Discovering Acadia's Geologic Past  (5th-8th Grade)

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Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
State Standards:
NATIONAL/STATE STANDARDS:2007 Maine Learning Results
Science and Technology – A1 Systems, A2 Models, A3 Constancy and Change, A4 Scale, B1 Scientific Inquiry, D2 / D3 Earth, Matter and Energy, E5 Evolution
Social Studies – D1 Geography


When you hike around Acadia National Park, you will see beautiful and diverse landscapes. How would you describe these landscapes? How were they created? Using Acadia as their classroom, students will explore several geologic processes and how they shape the land -  the cycle of deposition versus transport, the formation of three main rock types, the dynamics of plate tectonics and the movement of glaciers. These same processes take place all over the world.
With a new found knowledge and appreciation of Acadia's geology, students will discuss ways they can help take care of the geologic resources in the park. Protection includes: keeping rocks in the park and not taking them home; hiking on hard surfaces when possible to prevent damage to soil and vegetation; and not building rock cairns and sculptures.
Ranger stands on rock ledge with students sitting nearby.


Trip Planner

This 2-mile hike takes place on a trail that is rocky and uneven. Overall the trail is considered to be of moderate difficulty, but short sections of the trail may be considered strenuous. Please meet your ranger at 9:00 AM at the location listed in your confirmation email. Your ranger will actually meet your bus before the parking area, and will escort the bus to the appropriate parking spot along the road and then walk the group down to the bathrooms. The program concludes at 1:00 PM. Plan a bathroom break just before departing school. If you have any questions about the program in advance, please call the education office at 288-8823, or 288-8825 on the day of the program. If you will be more than 15 minutes late, please call the Visitor Center at 288-8832 so that they can contact the ranger by radio.

Program Schedule (timing and sequence may vary)
9:00 Welcome and logistics
9:15 Sand Beach: seasonal profile, deposition, erosion, wave energy.
9:35 Begin Great Head hike: rock cycle, bedrock history
10:15 Great Head Point: shatter zone, bedrock exploration, plate tectonics
11:30 Lunch along the trail
12:00 Glacial formation, flow, and features
12:50 Return to beach: summary and conclusion.
1:00 Departure

 Plan to Bring
· Chaperones: Plan early! Acadia requires a chaperone for every ten students. Extra chaperones are welcome. Please communicate to all chaperones the description of the terrain beforehand.
· Food: No food is available at Sand Beach. Each student needs to bring a snack, a bag lunch and a water bottle or resealable drink (no cans or glass bottles). There is a water fountain available at the beginning of the program.
· Clothing: Wear layered outdoor clothing to accommodate changing weather conditions. Supportive shoes are essential—no sandals or flip-flops. It’s best to wear pants instead of shorts for extra tick protection.
· Nametags: Students and adults need name tags. A piece of masking tape with name in marker is sufficient.
· Signed photo release forms: Please send photo releases home with students for parent signatures.
· Educational Fee Waiver: To access Sand Beach for your program, you will need to show an approved educational fee waiver at the Entrance Station. The waiver form for your trip will be prepared by the park’s Fee Management Office and e-mailed to you in advance of your trip by the Education Office.

Teachers’ Responsibilities
 · Prepare students for the program. This program works best as a review of basic geologic terms and processes studied in the classroom. If you need a copy of The Geology of Mount Desert Island: a Visitor’s Guide to the Geology of Acadia National Park by the Maine Geological Survey, please contact our office. Pre-visit activities can be found on the park website.
· Adherence to school procedures such as permission slips, insurance, transportation, etc.
· Recruit chaperones and inform them of their responsibilities. Please photocopy and distribute the chaperone handout.
· Prepare students to follow Leave No Trace practices:
  1. Stay on trails if possible.
  2. Respect, listen, and use quiet voices.
  3. Leave natural objects. Take trash with you. (You may want to bring a trash bag.)
· Supervise students and help them stay focused while on the program.
· Notify trip participants about the recommendation to check for ticks after visiting the park. Tick numbers here have risen in recent years. Here is a link a Maine Tick/Lyme Disease Information Sheet for your reference.
· Ensure that safe practices are followed throughout.

Program Goals:
· To provide an opportunity for students to connect to the resources of Acadia through sensory exploration & discovery.
 · To increase the students’ knowledge and appreciation of Acadia’s geology.
 · To create a sense of stewardship towards the park’s geologic resources.

 Program Objectives:
Students will be able to…
· Define four geologic terms e.g. geology, mineral, erosion, etc.
 · Name the three types of rocks and explain how each is formed.
· Identify one local example of each rock type.
· Explain the rock cycle.
 · Describe the formation of the shatter zone.
· Define plate tectonics and its role in forming our present scenery.
 · Identify and explain three geologic processes.
 · Describe glaciation and two glacial features.
 · Tell how soils are formed and why soils differ.
 · Give one reason why geologic resources are protected by Acadia National Park.
· Name two things a person can do to protect Acadia’s geologic resources.

Learning Standards:
From the Next Generation Science Standards: History of Earth
MS-ESS1-4. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic time scale is used to organize Earth’s 4.6-billion-year-old history.
MS-ESS2-2. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales.
MS-ESS2-3. Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.
Earth’s Systems
 MS-ESS2-1. Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth’s materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
MS-ESS3-1. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth’s mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes.

Last updated: March 29, 2019