Oregon Trip Becomes a Journey of Learning

By Tsubata, Kate | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 15, 2001 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Oregon Trip Becomes a Journey of Learning

Tsubata, Kate, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)

Byline: Kate Tsubata

One of my chief goals as a home educator is to help my children develop the habit of exploration and discovery. I am not content simply to get them through the standard years of schooling; I want them to continue to expand their knowledge throughout their lives.

In recent weeks, my son and I traveled to Portland, Ore., to participate in a friend's wedding. Although we were nervous about plane travel, we decided the trip was important.

Because the trip went from coast to coast, we were able to see a lot from our plane window. We saw the landscape unfold below us - rolling hills gave way to sharper mountains, flat plains were crossed by winding rivers. My son pointed out the various features to me, and I would explain how some of them developed. When we saw the exaggerated curves of the Mississippi River, I told him how the curves would became more and more extreme until there was a flood. The floods tended to redraw the river's course back to a straight line again, I explained. My son noted that it might also create islands where the river had previously curved.

This began a discussion of island development through alluvial deposits of river-borne silt. We talked about the typical delta-type islands that form at the mouths of many rivers. We also talked about dams as we passed a few oddly shaped man-made lakes, and about how they provide electricity and store water for irrigation and human consumption.

My son asked about the perfectly round circles of green that were surrounded by yellow squares. He had heard of "crop circles" and thought they were a UFO phenomenon, but we learned they actually are the natural result of a rotating irrigation system. We saw snow on top of the Rocky Mountains and could see how the winter snows create the runoff that settles in the valley lakes below. We watched mountains give way to the yellow expanse of desert, and the deserts give way to mountains and lakes again. As all the scenery passed below us, we discussed what it must have been like to travel it in a covered wagon with a few horses. How did the pioneers know where to cross the rivers? Where to pass through the mountains? Where they might find water?

As we flew, my son noticed the way the pilot manipulated the wing flaps to guide the plane. We discussed the principles of airflow and lift, speed and altitude. We computed how many miles high we were and how long the flight would take at the air speed the pilot had indicated. We noticed condensation from the clouds on the wings and discussed winter weather and the icing of wings.

While in Oregon, we learned about the local climate patterns and vegetation. We found out that blackberries grow wild there all summer and that they have many other crops not found in our area. We visited the Pacific Coast and saw sea lions sunning themselves on rocks and communicating in a melodic barking chorus. We learned that the currents there come from Alaska, accounting for the frigid temperatures and frequent whale sightings. We saw the bleached and whitened trunks of hundreds of trees washed up on the shore from many storms.

And as we returned, we experienced the difference that time zones make in travel times of arrival and departures.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Oregon Trip Becomes a Journey of Learning


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?