Ancient stories cast in Stone

Phyllis Jowell Gr 5 and 6 children enjoyed a day out of the classroom to learn about the rocks and mountains of our beautiful Cape Peninsula at the end of February 2016. We were supposed to do the outing last year, but the raging wild fires prevented us from going anywhere near Chapman’s Peak.

In the classroom

Each child completed this worksheet before going on the outing
Each child completed this worksheet before going on the outing
Learning about rocks of the Cape Peninsula in the classroom
Learning about rocks of the Cape Peninsula in the classroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocks are not usually considered very interesting but the lesson in the classroom is interactive and fun with simple activities to help children connect with the amazing geological phenomenon of more than 650 million years of time exposed at Chapman’s Peak. Geologists travel from all over the world to see this and how many Cape Townians are even aware of it.Most of the written work is completed on the worksheet in the classroom before we go on the outing. I have learnt that kids learn more by experiencing rather than writing down information.

Essential reading

The book on rocks and geology of Table Mountain
The book on rocks and geology of Table Mountain

I am more a plant person but am fascinated by geology. Despite having read this book numerous times, I always find some new piece of information that I did not previously understand or connect with. Geology is littered with isolating terminology (I am not sure if botany is worse) and I lose interest quite quickly when the jargon takes over.

Basically, the rocks of the peninsula are incredibly complex and took a long time to form. On the outing, we look at igneous granite and sedimentary shale and sandstone. Deposited in the sandstone are veins of Manganese oxide………….I know that dissolved Mn 2+  ions react with oxygen to precipitate into black manganese oxide on the sandstone but am still not sure why there was so much of it deposited in the mine……….next year perhaps I will understand better!

 

 

 

 

On the mountain

The piles of manganese oxide can be seen in the background
The piles of manganese oxide can be seen in the background
Hout Bay on a gorgeous day and we are on the mountain. What a pleasure!
Hout Bay on a gorgeous day and we are on the mountain. What a pleasure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The walk to the Manganese Mine is an easy uphill climb from the Old Fort on Chapman’s Peak Drive. The views are magnificent and there are lots of different rocks to pick up and look at along the way. It can be really hot or windy and we all made sure that we were wearing hats and had plenty of water.

The strata of soft iron rich ochre outside the Manganese Mine

Face paint directly from the bands of red ochre next to the manganese mine
Face paint directly from the bands of red ochre next to the manganese mine
Faces decorated with ochre
Faces decorated with ochre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is simply impossible not to reach out your hand and touch this soft, red band of iron rich ochre. I am sure the first San and Khoi inhabitants of the Cape Peninsula knew of this ochre deposit thousands of years ago and made use of it for sun protection and decoration. The kids enjoyed smearing their faces with patterns.

Going into the Manganese Mine

Going into the manganese mine
Going into the manganese mine

The mine is not very deep or dangerous but can be a bit daunting.It is a bit slippery and one needs to tread slowly and carefully There is a hole at the bottom and at first you cant see where it goes. It is easy to get into and requires a bit of muddy scrambling to get out again : good clean (dirty?) fun that I don’t think children are allowed to do much of anymore.

Well done to those who took up the challenge and entered the dark space to explore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Phyllis Jowell kids for getting me out onto the mountain. You were a pleasure to be with and asked me lots of questions that made me think.

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