ELLERBE — Kids between the ages of 5 and 16 who have a fascination with rocks will soon be able to dig their way to some possible buried treasure.
The Rankin Museum of American Heritage in the town of Ellerbe will conduct a geology dig and workshop in four sessions Saturday. The event is open to the first 100 students to sign up and museum curator Gail Benson said 60 kids are already registered. The four time slots are 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon.
“They will go through three workstations,” Benson said of Saturday’s activities. “As they’re going through those stations, they’ll create a rock collection. Then they’ll go outdoors where they’ll have a geology dig where they’ll dig for gemstones and rocks from a bucket with dirt and box screens used to sift through the dirt.”
Benson said whatever gems and rocks the students can find can go home with them at the end of the day as their “rock collection.”
A test run, of sorts, for the geology dig took place Monday morning at the museum as Benson welcomed kids from Ellerbe First United Methodist Church as part of its R.O.C.K. summer camp program for kindergarteners through eighth-graders.
The campers gathered in the museum as Benson talked to them about different rock classifications and how rocks are created — the same material that will be discussed during Saturday’s events.
The three types are igneous, which are rocks made by volcanic activity; sedimentary, rocks made by rain and weather; and metamorphic, which are rocks that change from one form to another. The group also talked about pebbles and each student was treated to his or her own pebble to take home.
“Today’s events are part of the church’s summer reading day camp in association with the church,” said pastor Elizabeth Polk. “We’re partnered with Mineral Springs Elementary School providing resources and helping with reading and writing proficiencies over the summer.”
Polk said the camp is a way to keep students’ minds fresh during the summer months when the temptation is there to sit in front of the TV and play video games all day.
The large day camp group was split into two smaller groups, with one group spending time in Kemp Library, which is attached to Rankin Museum, and the other doing the geology dig. Next week, Polk said, they’ll switch.
“Each day there are special outdoor activities that are all designed to reinforce the work that they’re doing in the classroom,” Polk said.
Benson said taking advantage of a local resource like the Rankin Museum is a way to teach kids about a subject they may not know much about — like geology — while also making it entertaining.
“The reason why we hold this (geology dig) is to give kids a better understanding of earth history and geology,” said Benson,” but we want to do it in a fun way where it’s hands-on and they learn a hands-on type of way.”
The dig and workshop is sponsored by the Rockingham Rotary Club, Benson said, which has given $900 for this year’s event and has already awarded a grant for next year’s dig.
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674, listen to him at 12:10 p.m on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on WAYN 900 AM and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.