Local children ages six to 12 this week are learning all about geology at the Weyburn Public Library.
Facilitating the ‘Secret World of Rocks’ Outreach Program is Geologist Jennifer Cugnet.
“I’ve essentially brought an entire geology lab, and set it up at the Allie Griffin Art Gallery downstairs at the library,” she noted. “So I’ve not only brought all the rocks and minerals from my collection, I’ve got some equipment and like microscopes and fluoroscopes.”
“I show the kids how Geologists look at rocks, and what I’d really like to share with them is that there’s more to this story,” she shared.
Cugnet said most children would at some point have picked up a rock outside and wondered what it was or been curious about it.
“What I am seeking to answer is, after you’ve picked up a rock, what can you do with it? What can you see inside? How can you figure out its story and what’s going on?”
Of course, this includes ‘breaking rocks’ in the great outdoors.
“So I’ve asked every child to bring rocks along with them when they come, and we go outside I give them safety glasses, we spaced them out and they all get a hammer and a chance to break their rock open.”
“For me, that’s one of the fun parts of my job, is the mystery and excitement and you’re curious, what are you going to find inside? What could be in here? And, of course, a lot of them think maybe there’s a diamond. Maybe there’s a fossil,” posed Cugnet.
She added some kids brought rocks that turned out to have fossils in them, or some other unique minerals.
Cugnet highlighted that it’s something anyone at any age can do.
“If you find the rock, put on some safety glasses, grab a hammer, break it open and see what’s inside. You might be surprised.”
She said one thing that has surprised her this week has been that she h ad expected to hear more comments about every child’s favourite geology-based video game, Minecraft.
“I think when I use the word, ‘mine’, and, ‘minerals’, Minecraft has come up two times, and other than that, it hasn’t, and which I’m glad, or because I’m not familiar with [the game], so I’m glad I can steer the conversation back to rocks pretty quickly.”
The rocks are on the tables, and the children have access to a magnifying glass.
“There’s three types of rocks on Earth. We have igneous rocks, which come from lava, sedimentary rocks that come from sediments like mud, silt and sand, and we have metamorphic rocks, and these are rocks that have changed from one rock type to another, and so there’s there’s very observable differences you can see between the three types, so for the younger ages it’s not so much about noticing those differences, just realizing there’s different ways you can sort rocks and we play some games for them to do that, whereas with the older age group they can start to train their eyes a little bit more to notice those finer details.”
“So while there’s lots of hands on, there’s a lot of detail oriented observation that can go into it as well.”
Cugnet shared her objective for anyone with whom she shares her passion for rocks.
“If they can remember two things, and this is for both age groups, and adults alike, then I’ve done my job,” she said. “And the two things are: rocks are everywhere, and rocks tell stories.”
“So if they’re at all curious about rocks, I hope that they then know that there is more to the story, they can dig a little deeper, and to always be curious about the world around you, and keep exploring, because there is more to the story.”
Cugnet said she could talk anybody’s ear off who’s interested in learning about rocks, and she is happy to share her knowledge.
“I’d like to just thank the Weyburn Public Library for allowing me to set up my lab in the Alley Griffin room this week. It’s been a wonderful opportunity.”
Follow Cugnet at @rockstellstories on Instagram.