Goal: To provide students with an understanding of lava-tube formation, and the geological and ecological features of the Ape Cave ecosytem.
Objectives: Student will demonstrate ability to:
- Describe how a lava tube forms.
- Recognize the niche occupied by several life-forms
- surviving in this specialized ecosystem.
- Locate, sketch and identify sources of five of Ape Cave's geological features.
- Appreciate the necessity of protecting such delicate ecological systems, taking proper safety precautions, and observing behavioral rules during their small-group exploration of Ape Cave.
Key Concepts: A lava flow may travel great distances, creating unique geological features and ecosystems because of its self-insulating properties. Lava tubes represent a fragile, specialized habitat requiring care and respect on the part of huma n visitors.
Summary: Students simulate the formation of Ape Cave, in order to better understand its construction. Students observe, illustrate and discuss geological features of this lava tube. The teacher provides instruction in preserving ecosystem balanc e, and the effects of human vandalism on Ape Cave.
Content Areas: Geology, speleology, biology, ecology, environmental studies, art.
Needed supplies and equipment:
- sturdy shoes
- trash bags for litter-collection
(A teacher/student ratio of 1:8 is advised for this field activity.)
Evaluation: Participation in simulation activity, completion of Geological Features activity-sheet, appropriate conduct reflecting respect and appreciation.
- As you travel to Ape Cape, have students draw a cross-section of the bus, in order to practice this skill.
- Also on the bus, review key characteristics of a lava flow.
- Liken the bus to the magma chamber of Mount St. Helens, with the doors of the bus representing the vent through which lava was emitted.
- Point-out the "features" of the cave represented in the simulation (tube, skylights, breakdown, flow-through,) and discuss.
- Explain the Geological Features activity-sheet and give instructions for its completion.
- At the entrance to Ape Cave, discuss:
- When it was formed.
- Who discovered it, and how.
- How the cave got its name.
- Proper cave-exploration behavior: respect for all features, no running, quiet voices, lights on all times and kept out of people's eyes, remaining in groups of four.
- Divide class into "explorer groups" of four students each. Assign at least one adult per two groups of four. Send half the groups upslope (beneath stairs) for ten minutes, to identify and sketch the tube-in-tube, lavacicles, ceiling breakdown. Send the other half downslope for ten minutes to identify and sketch flow-mark s, wall breakdown. Reverse the groups' locations and assignments for the second ten minutes.
- Gather groups together at the bottom of the stairs to share what they have found. Assign to each group a geological feature, which they will discuss among themselves for a few minutes and then present to the whole class, or on which they will later h ave an opportunity to become "experts" for a school-site presentation.
- To conclude this activity, take the class back to the cave entrance. Discuss food-chains within the cave, and how the cave's food-chain is connected with the one outside the cave. Discuss evidence of vandalism and students' feelings about it. (See questions at bottom of Geological Features handout.)
- Repeat lava-flow simulation now that its effects have been observed in the cave
- Study spelunking and plan a longer trip in which the class explores more of the cave's length
- Walk The Trail of Two Forests at the Lava Cast Picnic Area
- Read Ape Cave and the Mount St. Helens Apes, by William R. Halliday