Geology and History Intersect on Science 7 Field Trip to Maltby Lakes

Seventh Grade Science Teachers

Science teachers Dawn Card, Ian Clark, Maura Foley, and Jen Stauffer recently organized an immersive field trip for their seventh grade science classes (Sci7) to the Maltby Lakes Reserve, which neighbors the Hopkins campus. As a capstone to a unit on local Connecticut Geology, students had the incredible opportunity to observe field geology up close at several locations in the reserve while participating in several reflection and team building experiences. The field trip took place during the final weeks of school.

Prior to their field trip, the Sci7 teachers created a field guide for the students to develop during class time. The guide was based in part on the work of Ryan Deasey of the United States Geological Survey and his graduate advisor, Bob Wintsh, Hopkins Class of 1965. As an additional prelude to geologic investigations, students engaged in a leadership activity. Through this activity, students learned more about personal communication styles and relating to others, which served to foster teamwork and community-building during their field trip. 

One geologic site the groups visited within the Maltby Reserve was Silliman’s Quarry. Students observed and learned about local rock formations and the geological processes that created them. One thing that is very cool about the Verd Antique stone outcroppings at this location: they are a part of a tiny slice of oceanic crust that got caught up and squished between other rock types at some point during the different tectonic events that built the Appalachian Mountains.

Students also gained further appreciation for the historical Hopkins connection to this site. Silliman’s Quarry is named for its discoverer, Benjamin Silliman, Sr., a Yale chemist and geologist who is responsible for the American Journal of Science and is considered by many to be the father of American science education. James Dana, a famous geologist, was his doctoral student and they curated Yale’s earliest mineral and meteorite collection (which went on to become the centerpiece of the early Peabody Museum).  Benjamin Silliman Jr., Hopkins Class of 1833, was his son. Benjamin Silliman Jr., also a chemist and a geologist, is best known for applying his father’s pioneering technique of fractional distillation to refining petroleum. Yale geology students still visit Silliman’s Quarry as part of their field studies. Now Hopkins can add its Sci7 students to the list of budding geologists that visit this site!

Lambert's Mine was another field trip destination in the Maltby Reserve. Prospectors were inspired to attempt to mine this site after a small deposit of gold was discovered in West Haven in the early 1800’s.  Prospectors dug a few scratch pits into a quartz vein to look for mineable ores and those scratch pits are still visible to this day. In addition to seeing evidence of historic mining at this site, students were also able to observe several different metamorphic rock types and see evidence of tectonic stresses.  

In addition to field observations, students also participated in a peaceful self-guided reflection experience. The goal of this short solo experience was to allow students a quiet moment to reflect on their year while immersed in nature and quiet. In addition to potentially providing emotional and physical restoration, solo experiences such as this can foster growth through introspection and clarity.

The nature and geology of the Maltby Lakes area was more closely tied to people, place, and time through an activity created by Hopkins history teacher, Errol Saunders. Through a guided exploration of how historical maps of the New Haven area have changed over time, students were able to appreciate the impact of those that came before them and the impact they themselves have on the present and the future. 

This inaugural field trip was only made possible through the efforts of many. Dawn Card, Ian Clark, Maura Foley, and Jen Stauffer would like to thank their colleagues who generously gave their time and effort to chaperone this fun and enriching event. Hopkins Archivist, Thom Peters, and Errol Saunders contributed to make this a rich, cross-disciplinary science and history experience for kids and adults alike. We would also like to thank our students for approaching the day with curiosity and resilience– you did a great job enduring bug spray, sunscreen, and sweat to help take this experience across the finish line. Your love of learning and desire to gain a deeper understanding of the world around you was inspirational!

Click here to browse all photos from the trip.
    • Geologic Map of Maltby Reserve (RWA– regional water authority)

    • Ore containing Cu as is found at Lambert’s Mine (image from MCP Gallery)

    • Verd Antique from Silliman’s Quarry (image from Deasey, et. al. )

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Hopkins is a private middle school and high school for grades 7-12. Located on a campus overlooking New Haven, CT, the School takes pride in its intellectually curious students as well as its dedicated faculty and staff.