Off on another field trip. This time, Brian and I managed to get Brad to take some time from work and come along too.
Wadi Degla is a wadi, a valley, a dry riverbed. It's another of the "most people who come to Cairo, never see it" spots. Wadi Degla is a protected natural area with very beautiful views, desert plants and even wildlife. Here is an on-line brochure about the area.
Brian's class went out with one other 3rd grade class and once we made the long, bumpy, bus ride out into the wadi, the classes were split into 3 groups for different stations.
At the first station, we learned about the bats of Egypt and how important they are. I have to say that I am a huge fan of anything that eats bugs(!) and bats are so much cuter than spiders. The biologist teaching the class had a live bat that the children could see (and not touch!). I liked how she was very strong about being respectful and kind to the animals. We learned about this particular bat, and how it compares to others, then the kids were given a dichotomous key covering the local bats , and were tasked to identify the bat. They correctly identified it as a Geoffrey's Tomb bat.
While having lunch, we watched a whole pile of vehicles converge on our site from both directions... we had a good laugh that even though we were over 5km out in the wilderness, you can never escape the traffic in Cairo! This was good traffic though. Two buses loaded with volunteers from Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, were out to pick up garbage in the wadi because, unfortunately, not only are some people selfish litterbugs, the winds bring in a lot of trash... it was very nice to see these folks out picking it up!
The station after lunch was about the plants in the desert. Most of the brush looks pretty dried out, but it's alive. We learned about a number of the plants, how they differ from other plants, how their roots collect water, and whether or not the plants store water. The kids were given clay and taught to make pressings of the different plants and flowers.
The last station was on rocks and minerals. A favorite subject as this is something they've been studying in science. They were given a brief introduction, and then turned loose for about 10-15 minutes in order to go find samples. In no time at all, they returned with a good pile of basalt, petrified wood, calcite, etc. A few shells and rocks with nummulites and other marine fossils. Couldn't keep anything though as collection is not allowed. After reviewing all of their findings, the instructor took them up on a ledge overlooking the valley so they could sketch the surrounding area.
I'm glad this trip was in the spring. It was rather hot out there by afternoon, but it was a beautiful day. Clear blue sky and clean air. Here are some photos of the wadi (I'd suggest clicking on the album and viewing it in picasa, the photos are high resolution and look better slightly larger than what fit here.):
What a fascinating day!