I’ve loved field trips since I was a kid in school and we had the occasional adventure to somewhere, anywhere other than school. Of course, going to public school, I don’t remember that many field trips, but I expect I must have had some. At least, I hope so!
My daughter K- is at a school where they love field trips and, of course, the kids love them too. And what kid wouldn’t love the travel, adventure, change in the boring day to day routine? I always volunteer to be involved with field trips too, either as a driver or chaperone. I’m low key, sensitive to the possibility of embarrassing my child in front of her peers, and it’s a fascinating time to listen to the conversation and get some insight into what makes children tick.
In fact, my kids know that I have a “cone of silence” rule in the car too: the kids can basically talk about anything at all and I will trust their privacy unless it’s something with health, safety or legal implications (e.g., if they started talking about who sells drugs or can score beer for a party, I’d rat ’em out). Otherwise, I just listen and have a running commentary in my head as I drive.
The 48th Annual Denver Gem & Mineral Show is a nice field trip as it’s about a 30min drive from school and we’re back at school by 1.30pm, so it doesn’t eat up a day. Even better, it’s quite fun and there are some really beautiful gems on display and for sale too. We got there and darned if it wasn’t ‘student day’ as we learned our class would be a small percentage of the 1000+ children expected that day. That’s a lotta kids!
We started with a briefing from one of the show staff outside the Denver Mart (formerly the Denver Merchandise Mart):
Briefing done, we headed in and while I spent much of the time trying to keep the kittens in a line (I was responsible for a group of 6 children, four boys, two girls), I did have a chance to take some photos of the splendid pieces. Unfortunately, as I don’t know gems very well at all, I have no idea what they are, so I’ll just comment on the photos as best I can. If you’re a gem-head, please do identify things in the comments!
To start, an overview shot:
Not the most glamorous space in the world for an event, but quite functional and certainly well lit!
Some vendors leaned towards what seemed more educational than anything else (though everything had a price tag). Here’s a very typical display:
Other vendors, however, had big samples with price tags ranging from a few hundred dollars (like the below sample of quartz crystals on a piece of pyrite) into the hundreds of thousands:
As a gamer, I was struck how many of the mineral samples looked like they were inspiration for dice of various sizes and sides. For example, don’t these look like they’re ready to become 6-side dice?
The colors were splendid too, and sometimes a bit weird.
I’d swear that the following is just made up of years of green paint dripping onto the rock, but it’s a real formation, not something man-made:
There was also an exhibit of dull, boring rocks that became astoundingly vivid and colorful under a blacklight. They were centralized in the Florescent Room and it was sufficiently cool that my group ended up going in there twice on our short visit. You can see why:
Not every single thing on display was a gem or mineral. In fact, a few vendors had fossils that were, of course, quite compelling for the kids. Here’s my favorite of the bunch:
A few vendors also had meteorites for sale, and I succumbed and bought a small one to wear as a pendant.
Here’s a close-up:
I’m fascinated by the idea that this has traveled through space for millennia before crashing through our atmosphere and ending up buried somewhere on Earth until it was discovered.
And, finally, there was this one polished rock that looked to me like the Paris skyline, complete with the Eiffel Tower. You look and tell me what you see:
The children were respectful, polite and the conversation both to and from the Denver Mart was pretty much what you’d expect from a group of 6th grade girls, about boys and other girls who weren’t in the car. Yikes. Was I ever that young?