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June 14, 2012

June 12–20, 2012
The Yellowstone Institute is part of the Museum’s Educators of Excellence Program, which strives to provide exceptional educators with staff development opportunities that transform the way they view and teach natural sciences. The Yellowstone Institute provides a unique opportunity for educators to learn about wildlife, geology, and conservation in America’s first national park.

Yellowstone Institute

Today we fully immersed ourselves in Yellowstone. We started off the day with a glimpse of how biology and geology can interact. At Mammoth Terraces, we learned about thermophiles – microorganisms that can survive at high temperatures and color the springs at Mammoth yellow, orange, blue, and brown. This alien-looking landscape is due to both biological and geological processes — heat from the magma chamber miles underground, heated groundwater flowing through and dissolving limestone bedrock, chemical precipitation of travertine, and the living microorganisms that help give the terraces their remarkable shape and color.

In the afternoon we further explored the area surrounding Mammoth Terraces on Beaver Ponds trail, a ~5-mile trail that meanders past a series of active and inactive beaver ponds. In one small pond, we were excited to find a Columbia spotted frog — one of only four species of amphibians in Yellowstone. We were excited, though not too surprised…

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