When I was little, I was fascinated by rocks. I loved exploring the colors and textures.I would collect the rocks I found prettiest. I built up a sizable collection of obsidian from Yellowstone without my parents realizing – which, given that it’s illegal, led to a pretty stern talking-to when they found out. After that discussion I realized that rocks, though plentiful, are more than shiny paperweights. Rocks illuminate our past. Certain rocks are only available in limited supply.

Although a fascination with rocks hasn’t influenced my career choice in the slightest, it’s never quite gone away. So when I heard about WonderLab’s “I Am A Geologist!” event during the Week of the Young Child, I knew I needed to attend. I finally had the opportunity to build on my geological knowledge and use it for my writing!


A young scientist exploring the history of our planet. Right, a future geologist getting ready to start a new collection.

I knew exactly what I wanted to experience first: the immense “limestone” cave in the center of the room. Made primarily from a tarp in the shape of a large balloon, the cave was kept inflated with powerful fans at the entrance. You might hear “large tarp” and think, “that sounds claustrophobic.” Nothing is further from the truth. I’m not a small man – I’m over six feet tall, and I could have been twice my height and still barely touched the top of the cave, though I did have to crawl to enter. Inside, it was so dark that guests used flashlights to see the walls, which were covered with images of various animals that might shelter in an actual cave.


A young scientist getting ready to go spelunking.

The exhibit was more than just sight-seeing, however. Guests learned that “fossil” typically refers to an object that is 10,000 years old or older. Guests explored various fossils, such as a mastodon mandible found by a farmer in northern Indiana and tree


The best image I could get from inside the cave.

bark from the ancient
sigillaria tree, which many guests at first believed to be scales. Anyone present then got to bring home a fossil of their very own – a horn coral, which had shells shaped like horns and (when it was alive) tentacles extending from the larger end with which it grabbed food.

This event was technically geared towards WonderLab’s younger guests, but I personally had a blast – and while most of the other adults there were parents or guardians, they all wore smiles, too. Collectively, it seemed like we all had an excellent time exploring our planet’s history and what it’s made of, which is not uncommon at WonderLab. The hands-on experiments and exhibits have consistently allowed me to not only feel like a young and inquisitive spirit again, but have taught me about our world and how it works. The “I Am A Geologist” event especially allowed me to feel like a little kid collecting rocks from the riverbed. My thanks to WonderLab for letting me relive some of my best childhood experiences.


SamZlotnickThe Writer: Samuel Zlotnick is 24 years old and is a self-described “scifi/fantasy geek”.  He’s learning a lot from his internship at WonderLab in its Marketing/PR department, which he feels will compliment his eventual Bachelor’s Degree in Professional & Technical Writing. He mostly regrets having taken the obsidian from Yellowstone, but still appreciates his collection to this day.