I was doing a bit of cleaning and stumbled across some things from my Oceanography class last term. I'd meant to write about that class, but somehow got sidetracked and then forgot.
It's one of the few science classes I've taken in college, but it was definitely one of my favorites classes. I love English classes where I can sit back and think about stories we've read, or dig into poetry, but this...this had me on the edge of my seat. Literally. No, I'm not planning to drop English for studying the ocean, it was just a different kind of fun that was new to me.
Oh yeah, and it didn't hurt that the professor used chocolate to teach us. Yep, that's right. Chocolate.
The chocolate was in the form of...maybe a Snickers bar? He handed one out to each of us, and in explaining about earthquakes and the different faults that happen he had us break the candy in different ways so that we could see what he was talking about. You know, like shoving one half to the side after the initial break, or pushing one side up...I still had a hard time remembering what each one was called, but a year later that lesson is still easy to remember.
And, of course, we got to eat the chocolate after. Possibly the most delicious lesson I've ever had.
The professor also gave us sand. It turns out that an easy way to look at sand is to put hole punches in a small card, then trap the sand between tape. He gave us three samples...one was from the Fort Stevens area of the Columbia river, another was from the Oregon Dunes, and he was unsure about the last sand but his best guess was that it's tropical.
I don't think I'd ever given any thought to how coarse sand is, or isn't, but comparing the sands side by side it's pretty obvious that the Oregon Dune sand wasn't as coarse as the others. Turns out that this is because that just happens when sand is windblown, and that water actually protects sand and keeps it coarse.
When I was younger I loved to visit lighthouses. I still want to see more if I get the chance, but I think I need to also collect a sand sample next time I'm visiting a beach. It's surprisingly fun to compare different samples of sand to each other.